East Coast in danger of more tropical cyclones as climate change pushes storms north

New York, New York - Tropical cyclones, which usually bask in warmer waters, are getting closer and closer to the big cities on the East Coast, as Hurricane Ida could be just a taste test for what climate change has on the menu.

Storms like 2018's Hurricane Florence could head north thanks to climate change.
Storms like 2018's Hurricane Florence could head north thanks to climate change.  © IMAGO / StockTrek Images

A recent study published in the Nature Geoscience journal found that the type of storms that used to stick close to the equator will make landfall further north, and threaten millions of people in areas as far north as New York City.

The changing temperatures at the equator and the poles are set to change how the jet streams, which are strong air currents high in the atmosphere, will keep hurricanes in their place.

Right now, the jet streams push back on big tropical storms and keep them from heading too far north, acting as a kind of barrier for that keeps the storms closer to the equator.

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However, the researchers stressed that, as the equator and polar regions get closer in temperature, this will open the gates to cyclones heading further north.

They also noted that the storms would move slower and drop more rain if they are further up the coast, which means more rain for longer over the regions that get hit.

Those storms are also likely to happen more often, and be stronger, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, the leading scientific body on the climate, said in its Sixth Assessment Report.

The good news is that this isn't the end of the story; drastic climate action right now could still turn the tide around in time, saving lives and livelihoods.

Cover photo: IMAGO / StockTrek Images

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