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GCSE Geography | How Might Climate Change Affect Tropical Storms? (Weather Hazards 6)

AQA, Edexcel, OCR, Eduqas

Last updated 19 Jul 2023

One of the impacts of global climate change is that we will see more frequent intense tropical storms - this is because global warming will change the conditions that cause tropical storms to form.

This will happen in two ways:

As global temperatures rise this will cause thermal expansion of the oceans, resulting in sea level rise. This will make storm surges higher, which will flood low-lying coastal areas. Storm surges are the most deadly hazard related to tropical storms.

If the atmosphere is warmer the air can hold more moisture, which will result in heavier rainfall, leading to more destructive flooding during tropical storms.

Frequency and distribution

Scientists predict that the number of tropical storms are likely to stay the same, with some predicting a slight drop in number due to climate change. However, the agree that there will be an increase in category 4 and 5 tropical storms (the most severe), and fewer category 1-3 storms.

They also agree that tropical storms may start to occur in areas which previously didn't experience storms, as those areas start to become warmer - however this is likely to be just beyond the tropics, and not widespread across the globe, meaning that there won't be a significant change in distribution.


Scientists have found links between warmer oceans and the intensity of tropical storms - meaning that where the sea temperature is higher tropical storms will be more destructive. They predict that by 2100 the intensity of tropical storms will have increased by 2-11%, and this is backed by an increase in the number of category 4 and 5 storms since the 1970s, and in particular the increase in 'super' storms - for example, Super Typhoon Haiyan in 2013 and Super Typhoon Noru in 2022 (both hitting the Philippines - Haiyan is pictured below). Scientists predict that for every 1°C increase in temperature at the surface of the ocean, there will be a 3-5% increase in wind speed.

How Might Climate Change Affect Tropical Storms? | AQA GCSE Geography | Weather Hazards 6

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