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Researchers from the UK Met Office have discovered that the presence of man-made aerosols affects hurricane activity, but not in the way that one might automatically assume. It turns out that during the 20th century, aerosols in the atmosphere slowed down hurricane activity, and that efforts to clean them up since the 1980s has resulted in increased hurricane activity.

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The research team simulated weather conditions during the period of 1860 to 2050 and found that there were fewer tropical storms when man-made aerosols increased over the North Atlantic, Physorg reports.

“Increases in anthropogenic emissions (particularly of aerosols) through most of the last century is found to have reduced hurricane activity,” co-author Ben Booth told AFP.

Aerosols present in the atmosphere change the color of clouds, which then affects how much solar heat is beamed onto the sea’s surface. As Physorg notes, ocean warmth provides most of the fuel for tropical storms, while other conditions determine whether they will evolve into full-fledged hurricanes that wreak havoc on earth.

The research published in the journal Nature Geoscience is the first to draw a correlation between aerosols and hurricane activity, and the researchers predict that future storms are most likely to be influenced by an increase in greenhouse gas emissions.

Meanwhile, previous research shows that while the number of storms is expected to stay consistent, they will become more intense.

Via Physorg