Study: Scientists See Natural Ocean Cycles As ‘Dominant’ In 2017 Hurricane Season

Michael Bastasch | Energy Editor
  • A new study found warm Atlantic Ocean sea surface temperatures drove the increase in major hurricanes.
  • “[W]e speculate that the influence of natural variability on major hurricanes was dominant,” a scientist said.
  • Human activities could have played a role, but it’s likely smaller than natural variability, the scientist said.

Natural variability, not man-made global warming, was likely the “dominant” factor behind the slew of major hurricanes that churned in the Atlantic Ocean in 2017, according to a study.

The study, published in the journal Science on Thursday, found the “increase in the 2017 major hurricanes was not primarily caused by La Niña conditions in the Pacific Ocean, but mainly by pronounced warm sea surface conditions in the tropical North Atlantic.”

“The key factor controlling Atlantic major hurricane activity appears to be how much the tropical Atlantic warms relative to the rest of the global ocean,” reads the study. (RELATED: Scientists Throw Cold Water On Claims Linking Hurricane Florence To Global Warming)

While models suggested any future warming in the Atlantic Ocean would increase the risk of major hurricanes, the study’s authors suspect natural ocean cycles played a dominant role in 2017’s active hurricane season.