Warm ocean water, caused by rising temperature, is responsible for the increased hurricane activities in the North Atlantic Ocean in 2017, according to new research.
Last year, the United States was rocked by six major hurricanes. Three of them, namely Harvey, Irma, and Maria made landfall, displacing families and destroying homes.
Puerto Rico is still reeling from the damage caused by Hurricane Maria that hit the island in September. As of this writing, the death toll has increased to nearly 3,000 people.
That is just the beginning. In the study published on Thursday, Sept. 27, in the journal Science, experts warned that more active hurricane seasons might be experienced in the future.
Several other factors contributed to the increased hurricane activity last year. The researchers pointed out that the moderate La Niña in the Pacific is also partly responsible for the formation of six major hurricanes in the North Atlantic Ocean.
However, the unusually warm water in the ocean outweighed all the other factors and will continue to cause major hurricanes in the future.
For the study, scientists used HiFLOR, a high-resolution global climate model, which is developed by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. The weather tool successfully predicted the active major hurricane season last year.
Additional experiments using HiFLOR also identified that the unusually warm water of the Atlantic Ocean was the main cause of the active major hurricane season.
"This new method allows us to predict hurricane activity as the season is happening, as well as take into consideration the likely contribution of climate warming," explained Hiroyuki Murakami, a researcher from NOAA and the lead author of the study.
Using the same model, researchers predicted a higher number of major hurricanes in the North Atlantic in the future. This new study echoes similar concerns from scientists who warn that the increase of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, which will continue to raise temperature worldwide, carries catastrophic consequences.
Dangers Of Rising Ocean Temperature
NOAA, in a separate study, revealed that the average global sea surface temperature has significantly increased in the past few decades. In 2017, the average global sea surface temperature was 0.67 degrees Celsius. In comparison, a hundred years ago, the average global sea surface was -0.23 degrees Celsius.
If this continues, the world will not only see stronger and more frequent hurricanes, the human race will also have to deal with rising oceans that would cause regular flooding in coastal towns and widespread coral bleaching that would threaten food security.