Hurricane Irma’s huge size ‘is fuelled by climate change’, scientists believe

Rob Waugh
How strong are Irma’s winds? Think NASCAR. (ABC News)

Hurricane Irma has been described as ‘potentially catastrophic’ – with the most powerful winds ever recorded for a storm in the Atlantic Ocean.

At least 10 people are thought to have died, with the storm so strong it registered on devices used to measure earthquakes.

Irma was fueled by the unusually warm waters in the Atlantic, experts have said – a development that experts have linked to climate change.


New Scientist said that research published in 2015 suggested that tropical cyclones are growing stronger, due to climate change making Atlantic waters warmer.

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‘We do have conditions now where disasters can be without precedent,’ said James Elsner of Florida State University in 2015.


Tropical cyclones are fuelled by warm surface water – and the strongest ones can only grow if warm waters extend down to 150 feet or more, New Scientist suggests. ,

Four other storms have had winds as strong as Irma in the overall Atlantic region but they were in the Caribbean Sea or the Gulf of Mexico, which are usually home to warmer waters that fuel cyclones.

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