Climate change has increased the size, strength and destructive force of hurricanes that strike the United States, according to a new Danish study.
It also reported that the most severe hurricanes are more than three times as common as they were 100 years ago.
The conclusions are based on a new way of analyzing historical hurricane data.
Scientists at the University of Copenhagen explained that comparing hurricanes overtime was traditionally done by assessing the cost of damage done by each hurricane. For example, what would a hurricane from the 1950s cost in today's dollars?
But rising costs can be attributed to more infrastructure, more people and more wealth - making it harder to determine whether hurricanes have actually become more severe due to climate change.
For this study, the researchers assessed how large an area would have to be completely destroyed in order to account for the financial loss of a hurricane.
Lead researcher Aslak Grinsted, an associate professor who studies the physics of ice, climate, and earth at the university's Niels Bohr Institute, called this the "area of total destruction" in a university news release.
He and his team said this new approach confirms that U.S. hurricanes have become larger, stronger and more destructive due to climate change.
The findings were recently published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
Source: University of Copenhagen, news release, Nov. 11, 2019.