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Hurricanes Are Lingering Longer. That Makes Them More Dangerous.

Hurricanes Are Lingering Longer. That Makes Them More Dangerous.

A new study finds that tropical cyclones around the world are moving slightly slower over land and water, dumping more rain as they stall, just as Hurricane Harvey did previous year.

Researchers claim that as the planet's poles heat up, pressure gradients around the world are changing, reducing the winds that push on these storms.

"The slower a storm goes, the more rain it's going to dump in any particular area", said study author James Kossin, a climate scientist from NOAA.

Kossin, who is also with the National Centers for Environmental Information, found a 20% to 30% slowdown over land areas affected by North Atlantic and North Pacific tropical cyclones, respectively.

The study was published Wednesday in the peer-reviewed British journal Nature. But Kossin thinks the slower speed of movement - which naturally adds more rainfall to any region the storm crosses may actually be a bigger deal than the simple increase in rain overall. Atlantic storms that make landfall moved 2.9 miles per hour (4.7 kph) slower than 60 some years ago, it said.

The result is more rainfall and more damage to buildings as hurricanes hover over population centers for longer periods of time.

Christina Patricola, a scientist with the climate and ecosystem sciences division of California's Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, called Kossin's work "important and new" and says she found it "pretty convincing".

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Kossin argues that the slow-down is caused by global warming, which is both increasing rainfall and decreasing wind currents.

Dr Kossin came to his conclusion by studying the tropical cyclone record, which spans from 1949-2016.

But there are probably more variables at play than a warmer climate putting the brakes on tropical cyclones.

"Roughly 7 percent more water vapor per degree C of warming", Kossin said.

With the exception of the Indian Ocean region, which tends to behave differently, "all the other regions show this consistent slowing", Kossin says.

"What we're seeing nearly certainly reflects both natural and human-caused changes", Kossin said.

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