Australia is experiencing a Category 5 cyclone, which is a storm of the same strength as Katrina, the hurricane that hit New Orleans. Wind gusts up to 180 MPH have been recorded,and another cyclone appears to be forming behind this one.Global warming warms up the ocean surface, making it more likely that tropical storms will turn into dangerous hurricanes, and oceans worldwide have reachedcritical warming levels.

Ker Than writes in that the surface temperature of the oceans has been rising since 1970. In the 1970s, there were about 10 category 4 and 5 hurricanes a years. Twenty years later, since 1990, that number has doubled.

Michael Schirber writes in that climate change will probably make future hurricanes stronger, but it’s not known whether global warming increases the total number of storms, although statistical evidence suggests that it does.

UPDATE: Thousands of people have been left homeless by the Australian hurricane. Thankfully, there were no deaths, and only thirty people were injured. A local mayor described the area where the hurricane landed as looking like it had been targeted by an atomic bomb. The Great Barrier Reef, a coral reef that is a major tourist attraction, was hit, but the extent of the damage is still unknown.

Art credit: NOAA

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