By 2050, Hurricane Katrina Could Happen Every Two Years

A new climate model shows the frequency of huge hurricanes skyrocketing as the planet warms.

Frequency of Katrina-Size Hurricanes

A timeline of the world's rapid warming shocked climate-change watchers earlier this month, but new research brings another scary image: the above chart showing how Katrina-size hurricanes could skyrocket in frequency by century's end. A new statistical model predicts that by 2050, the Atlantic will produce storms that large every two years.

Researcher Aslak Grinsted and his coauthors used a model based on worldwide temperatures to describe past hurricane activity and predict it in future. Their model shows hurricane frequency rising dramatically as the planet warms over the coming decades. What's more, their analysis of past temperatures and storms shows the process has most likely already started: "We have probably crossed the threshold where Katrina magnitude hurricane surges are more likely caused by global warming than not," they write. Which means we may need to get ready for storms like Katrina — which caused [PDF] over 1,800 deaths and over $100 billion in damage — to become regular events.