Data: Impact of climate change on tropical storms

Warming ocean temperatures cause earlier, more severe tropical storms

Climate change has impacted tropical systems across the globe over the last several decades.
Climate change has impacted tropical systems across the globe over the last several decades.

Earth’s climate is warming and, in turn, is affecting our weather in many ways -- especially among tropical weather systems.

Over the past 120 years, almost every ocean surface has warmed significantly. And since warm ocean temperatures fuel these tropical systems, the warmer oceans are causing the first-named storm of the season to form earlier and earlier each year.

Data from 50 years ago shows that the earliest-named tropical storm developed in early to mid July, on average. Now, the season’s earliest-named storm is forming by late May -- an incredible shift.

See the data in the video report above.

The warmer ocean temperatures are also causing hurricanes that form in otherwise favorable conditions to become more intense, as you’ve undoubtedly seen in recent years.

Related: Study: Climate change added $8 billion to Sandy’s damages

We’ve already had our first named storm of 2021: Forming at the end of May, tropical storm Ana dissipated harmlessly in the Atlantic Ocean.

Hurricane season forecast

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration has released their 2021 hurricane season forecast for the Atlantic -- check it out below.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration' Atlantic hurricane season forecast for 2021. (WDIV)

More: Is global warming impacting extreme weather events?


About the Author:

Local 4 meteorologist Paul Gross was born in Detroit and has spent his entire life and career right here in southeast Michigan. Paul has researched, written and produced eight half-hour documentaries for WDIV, as well as many science, historical and environmental stories.