We Asked a NASA Scientist: Are Hurricanes Getting Stronger?

Hurricane Katrina NASA

Hurricane Katrina. Credit: NASA Goddard Space Flight Center

When you say, “Are hurricanes getting stronger?” in the sense of, “Are they going to be category six?” The answer, in that case, will be no. Because of physics, hurricanes do not reach more than a category five. However, we do see more and more hurricanes in the Atlantic every season getting to category three, category four, or category five compared to seasons 40 years ago.

NASA does have a huge part in the studies of hurricanes and it starts mainly with the development of all these different instruments that we put on satellites and we put in orbit.

As scientists, we are always looking at the reasons why there’s this possibility that more and more tropical cyclones are becoming category three or more in every hurricane season. There is a large influence from climate change. The warmer the water, the stronger and the more energy this system is going to have and it’s going to just increase in intensity. So, are hurricanes getting stronger? The answer to that will be yes. We are seeing more and more tropical cyclones become category three, four and five. So in reality yes, we’re seeing that change every season in the last several years.

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2 Comments on "We Asked a NASA Scientist: Are Hurricanes Getting Stronger?"

  1. What about if we look back 100 years and extrapolate the information in hurricanes we never even knew about before things like weather satellites and radar? The answer is likely no.

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