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Te Whanganui a Tara – An Indian research paper has confirmed link between cyclones and climate change, which will have an impact on Aotearoa’s stormy months.

The Bay of Bengal on India’s west coast is usually warmer than Arabian Sea and so hosts more tropical storms; however, that scenario is now changing because of climate change.

Scientists and meteorologists have attributed the growing number of cyclones including the latest one, Tauktae, to climate change more so because of the intensity with which they have now started hitting the Arabian Sea.

Cyclone Tauktae has intensified overnight, making landfall in Gujarat, with officials evacuating thousands of people including covid-19 patients from hospitals near the coast.

In Aotearoa, Northland, Auckland and Bay of Plenty especially will face stronger storms and cyclones in future, climate scientists say.

Wind gusts of 205kmh were recorded in Auckland at Manukau Heads in 1992. Wind gusts of 205kmh were recorded in Auckland at Manukau Heads in 1992. New Zealand’s windiest place on record was Mt John overlooking Lake Tekapo in Canterbury in 1970 with wind gusts up to 250kmh.

According to a paper by Climate Trends, a Delhi-based agency that works towards bringing awareness around climate change issues and low carbon development, cyclones are fuelled by heat with the right temperature for a cyclone about 28°C and above.

The paper says recent cyclones such as Ockhi, Fani and Amphan have confirmed the trend as they have intensified from a weak cyclonic storm to an extremely severe cyclone in less than 24 hours due to exceptionally warm sea surface temperatures.

This will be the fourth consecutive year of a pre-monsoon cyclone over the Arabian Sea. It is the third consecutive year when a cyclone has reached the west coast of India.

Surface temperatures in the Arabian Sea have increased rapidly during the past century and this has led to an increase in the frequency and intensity of cyclones in the Arabian Sea.

Climate projections indicate the Arabian Sea will continue warming due to increasing carbon emissions, resulting in more intense cyclones in the future.

Considering that both cyclones and floods due to heavy rains are increasing across the west coast along with a gradual rise in sea level, countries need to be prepared, the paper says.