Forecasters say hurricane to kind off Mexico's Pacific coast
- Eileen Morales
He just published new research that found Atlantic hurricanes and other tropical cyclones have lost about 10 percent of their speed in the last 70 years. A fast storm can distribute its water across a wider surface area, decreasing the chance of extreme flooding.
When Hurricane Harvey devastated Houston in 2016, many scientists pointed to the fact that the storm hovered over the area for four days, dropping record amounts of water.
In the western north Pacific, the slowdown's been 30 percent; in the "Australian" region it's 19 percent.
The study is in Wednesday's journal Nature.
Kossin's research discovered the slowdown in both the Northern and Southern hemispheres and in every ocean basin except the North Indian Ocean. That's mostly because data before the 1970s is not reliable so it is hard to make such conclusions, according to University of Miami hurricane researcher Brian McNoldy.
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According to Kossin's study, combining the additional water vapor available in the atmosphere from 1 degree Celsius of warming -essentially where we are now - with a 10% slowdown from tropical cyclones that he observed would double the local rainfall and flooding impacts. "I just need more convincing that there actually has been a 10 percent motion change".
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"Inland flooding, freshwater flooding, is taking over as the key mortality risk now associated with these storms", Kossin said.
But there are probably more variables at play than a warmer climate putting the brakes on tropical cyclones.
He said beyond the changes in regularity and intensity of cyclones, their very "behaviour" was being affected by climate change. "And when you start getting more and more lines of evidence that all point in the same direction, you get more confident in the answers".