The impact of warming oceans on fragile marine organisms such as corals is already well-documented. What is less well-known is the effect of warming seas on the intensity and destructive power of tropical cyclones pummeling the coastlines of countries in east and southeast Asia.
Data collected by the Joint Typhoon Warning Center — managed by the U.S. Navy and Air Force — and the Japan Meteorological Agency, two researchers have found that over the past 40 years, typhoons in the northwest Pacific have intensified by 12 to 15 percent on average. In addition, the proportion of 4 and 5 category Typhoon— those with wind speed between 130 and 156 mph or higher — have doubled, or even tripled, in some regions.
“It is a very, very substantial increase,” lead author Wei Mei from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, said “We believe the results are very important for East Asian countries because of the huge populations in these areas. People should be aware of the increase in typhoon intensity because when they make landfall these can cause much more damage.”