A rise in the world’s sea surface temperatures was the primary contributor to the formation of stronger hurricanes since 1970, a new study reports. While the question of what role, if any, humans have had in all this is still a matter of intense debate, most scientists agree that stronger storms are likely to be the norm in future hurricane seasons. The study is detailed in the March 17 issue of the journal Science. An alarming trend In the 1970s, the average number of intense Category 4 and 5 hurricanes occurring globally was about 10 per year. Since 1990, that number has nearly doubled, averaging about 18 a year. Category 4 hurricanes have sustained winds from 131 to 155 mph. Category 5 systems, such as Hurricane Katrina at its peak, feature winds of 156 mph or more. Wilma last year set a record as the most intense hurricane on record with winds of 175 mph. Image Gallery Hurricanes from Above While some scientists believe this trend is just part of natural ocean and atmospheric cycles, others argue that rising sea surface temperatures as a side effect of global warming is the primary […]

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