The Climate in Emergency

A weekly blog on science, news, and ideas related to climate change

Your Tuesday Update: Typhoons


Earlier this month, there were two typhoons in the Pacific at the same time, one of them a super-typhoon, the other just shy of that mark. Typhoons are simply hurricanes that happen in the northern Pacific–for some reason, the same storm is called different things in different oceans. A super-typhoon is one with maximum sustained wind speeds of 150 mph.

Two typhoons at once is not actually all that unusual–the Pacific produces more storms (and more powerful storms) than the Atlantic does–although two super-typhoons would have been startling. The real news here is that Typhoon Goni was the second storm to hit Saipan in two weeks and its sister-storm, Super-typhoon Atsani was the 5th super-typhoon this year, which is five times as many as in a typical year.

I don’t know that this is specifically a climate change story–I mean, we’re living in a changed climate, so of course it impacts these storms somehow, I just don’t know if this year’s typhoon season is making climate change obvious at the moment. I don’t know how unusual it really is. But here in the United States, where I write, we seldom get much news from other countries unless we go looking for it. And those who keep an eye on extreme weather in order to get a feel for climate change should hear about what’s going on in the Pacific these days.


Author: Caroline Ailanthus

I am a creative science writer. That is, most of my writing is creative rather than technical, but my topic is usually science. I enjoy explaining things and exploring ideas. I have one published novel and another on the way. I have a master's degree in Conservation Biology and I work full-time as a writer.

4 thoughts on “Your Tuesday Update: Typhoons

  1. I live in the southern Pacific – New Zealand – and there is no question that the weather patterns here have become more chaotic. It’s been quite obvious this year. Because of wider climatic swings such as El Nino, it is possible to argue that this kind of period is within what could be expected. However, it seems reasonable to suppose that climate change adds a factor.

    • It unquestionably adds a factor. I’ve written about this in detail in earlier posts–among other differences, sea level rise substantially increases the danger from storms that make landfall. What changes have you noticed? What does “more chaotic” mean where you live?

      • Chaos in the sense of disturbed weather patterns (not ‘climate’, which is the 30-day average) with unexpected temperature records (both ends of the scale) and more storms. More rainfall (record levels) in some districts and unprecedented droughts in others. The sea level rise is negligible as a factor at this stage in New Zealand, though most communities are coastal. It’s what I would expect when a mathematically complex meta-static system (Earth’s climate) is moving to a different equilibrium position. Of course such things have happened in the past, and some of my professional jobs have included contributions to work investigating New Zealand’s past temperatures (specifically). I think one of the biggest issues today is that there’s an awful lot of research going on into the climate, we’re learning about its natural processes as well as what we’re doing to it – all at once – and we need to be able to correctly quantify the anthropomorphic factor. Probably we’re too late to stop the process of change we’ve been steadily triggering since the 1760s (Co2 from coal, principally) but we’ll see.

  2. Pingback: Looking Back | The Climate Emergency

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