A new study suggests that the intensity of tropical cyclones is shifting poleward.
According to the study, the latitude at which tropical cyclones reach their greatest intensity is gradually shifting from the tropics toward the poles at rates of about 33 to 39 miles per decade.
The new study was led by Jim Kossin, a National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) National Climatic Data Center scientist stationed at the University of Wisconsin-Madison's Cooperative Institute for Meteorological Satellite Studies.
The research documents a poleward migration of storm intensity in both the Northern and Southern Hemispheres through an analysis of 30 years of global historical tropical cyclone data.
The term "tropical cyclone" describes a broad category of storms that includes hurricanes and typhoons, large and damaging storms that draw their energy from warm ocean waters.
The findings are important, Kossin said, because they suggest that some areas, including densely populated coastal cities, could experience changes in risk due to large storms and associated floods and storm surges.
Regions closer to the equator, he noted, could experience a reduced risk, and places more distant from the equator could experience an increased risk.
The trend observed by Kossin and his colleagues is particularly important given the devastating loss of life and property that can follow in the wake of a tropical cyclone.
The study is published in the journal Nature.