group of leading scientists specializing in climate change has proposed a new category to classify hurricanes in response to the increasing intensity and destruction of these meteorological phenomena. The proposal, detailed in an article published in the journal PNAS, seeks to respond to the need not to underestimate the risks associated with hurricanes in a world that is more affected by global warming.
Researchers Michael Wehner of the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and James Kossin of the First Street Foundation question the adequacy of the current Saffir/Simpson scale, which consists of five categories, from 1 to 5. They argue that this scale may not adequately reflect the true risk of extreme storms, especially in the context of climate change.
The scientists’ proposal consists of introducing a new category for typhoons and typhoons with winds of more than 300 kilometers per hour. They argue that anthropogenic global warming has greatly increased ocean and tropospheric air temperatures, providing more thermal energy that intensifies hurricanes.
By analyzing historical hurricane data from the 1980s to 2021, researchers identified up to five hurricanes that could be classified as “Category 6.” In addition, they created simulations to study how climate warming affects the intensity of hurricanes.
The models reveal that with an increase of two degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels, the risk of Category 6 hurricanes will increase significantly in regions such as Southeast Asia, the Philippines, and the Gulf of Mexico. Despite the goals of the Paris Agreement on global warming, which seeks to limit the rise in global temperatures, the chances of Category 6 hurricanes will increase significantly, say researchers.
While adding a sixth category to the hurricane scale will not completely solve this problem, scientists argue that it may be effective in raising awareness about the dangers of the increased risk of major hurricanes due to climate change. This proposal highlights the urgency of addressing the intensification of extreme events during a rapidly changing global climate.