Despite the claims of climate activists and the mainstream media that climate change is causing more tropical cyclones and major hurricanes to form and making hurricane seasons worse, a recent study indicates these claims are false. In fact, the study shows tropical cyclones have declined 13 percent over the past century.

A June 2022 study titled Declining tropical cyclone frequency under global warming, published in the prestigious science journal Nature, reveals that counts of both northern and southern hemisphere tropical cyclones, which include hurricanes, typhoons, and tropical storms, have declined as the Earth modestly warmed over the past century. From 1900 to 2012, the study authors found that the annual number of tropical cyclones declined by about 13 percent compared with the period between 1850 and 1900, when tropical storms were increasing.

As illustrated in the figure below, showing the tropical cyclone trend calculated by the researchers, using a combination of actual observations and historical reconstructions, the trend past 1900 is clearly downward.

Figure: From Chand et al., 2022. The solid blue line is the annual number of tropical cyclones globally, and the red line is a five-year running mean. The dashed line is the trend line.

The tropical cyclone trend is almost the opposite of the global temperature trend.

NASA reports the average global temperature went down from 1880 to 1910, only to then increase by approximately 1.0 degrees Celsius (1.8 degrees Fahrenheit) between 1910 and 2012. Tropical cyclone numbers actually declined more sharply after 1950, by about 23 percent, compared to the 1850-1900 baseline, as global warming increased during the second half of the 20th century. Although the study authors noted a variation from one ocean basin to another, all basins demonstrated a declining trend in tropical cyclones.

Contrary to the popular media narrative that climate change is causing an increase in the number and severity of damaging hurricanes, such as such as Hurricane Harvey in 2017, Hurricane Sandy in 2012, or Hurricane Katrina in 2005, this study shows these claims to be false.

You might say it blows climate alarmists’ claims about hurricanes right out of the water.



Anthony Watts is a senior fellow for environment and climate at The Heartland Institute. Watts has been in the weather business both in front of, and behind the camera as an on-air television meteorologist since 1978, and currently does daily radio forecasts. He has created weather graphics presentation systems for television, specialized weather instrumentation, as well as co-authored peer-reviewed papers on climate issues. He operates the most viewed website in the world on climate, the award-winning website


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