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15 May 2014: Intensity of Hurricanes
Now Peaking Farther From the Equator

Hurricane Sandy's progression
NASA
Hurricane Sandy's progression
Powerful, destructive tropical cyclones are now reaching their peak intensity farther from the equator and closer to the poles, according to a new study in the journal Nature. Over the last 30 years, tropical cyclones, also known as hurricanes or typhoons, have moved poleward at a rate of roughly 33 miles per decade in the Northern Hemisphere and 38 miles per decade in the Southern Hemisphere. Ocean temperatures between 82 and 86 degrees F seem to be "ideal for the genesis of tropical cyclones," said MIT scientist Kerry Emanuel, who co-authored the study, "and as that belt migrates poleward, which surely it must as the whole ocean warms, the tropical cyclone genesis regions might just move with it." The poleward shift of hurricanes and typhoons could lead to "potentially profound consequences to life and property" in regions that previously had not been hit by tropical cyclones. The researchers said they are still investigating the atmospheric mechanisms behind this change, but they note that the trend seems consistent with a warming climate.


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