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Tropical cyclones packing more punch further from the equator

Published on May 15, 2014 6:57 AM
Category 5 Tropical Cyclone Ita is seen approaching the far north Queensland coast of Australia, in this NOAA satellite file image taken at 0130EST/0530GMT on April 10, 2014. -- FILE PHOTO: REUTERS

WASHINGTON (REUTERS) - People in heavily populated Pacific and Indian Ocean coastal regions beyond the tropics should take heed, US scientists said on Wednesday, because tropical cyclones increasingly are packing their biggest punch farther from the equator.

Over the past 30 years, the location where these powerful storms reach their maximum intensity has shifted away from the equator and toward the poles in both the northern and southern hemispheres at a rate of about 56 km per decade, they said. That amounts to half a degree of latitude per decade.

The trend may be linked to factors that have contributed to global climate change including human activities like the burning of fossils fuels, the researchers said.

The scientists documented the greatest migration in tropical cyclones in the northern and southern Pacific and south Indian Oceans. This march away from the equator was not seen in the Atlantic, although hurricanes have registered increases in average intensity due to factors that may be counteracting the poleward trend seen elsewhere, the researchers said.

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