he rapid succession of Hurricane Irma, one of the most powerful storms ever recorded in the Atlantic Ocean, after the devastation of Hurricane Harvey is unusual, say scientists, who add warming oceans are likely to make such storms increasingly common in the coming decades.
“Global warming is tangibly increasing hurricane risks around the world,” said Kerry Emanuel, a professor of atmospheric science at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. “The science is pretty confident about that.”
Hurricanes are the product of many variables, from the temperatures of oceans and the upper atmosphere to long-term, natural changes to ocean currents and water vapor. That makes it difficult to say conclusively that the one-two punch of Harvey and Irma — a Category 5 storm that threatens the Caribbean and possibly Florida with “potentially catastrophic’’ force — can be linked to global warming.