Enlarge (credit: National Weather Service)
Over the last few decades, a warming Atlantic Ocean has produced a number of very powerful hurricanes, some of which retained strength much further north than usual.

Fortunately for the US, however, few of them made landfall on the continental US, leading to talk of a “hurricane hiatus” that came to a decisive close this year.
A new analysis of New York City’s hurricane risk suggests that a similar fate might be in store for the city. While warming waters will produce more powerful storms in the future, climate models suggest that they’ll generally track further offshore of the city, a combination that ends up cancelling itself out. Unfortunately, due to rising oceans, the risk of flooding will keep going up, with what was once a 500-year flood occurring every 25 years by mid-century.
Out to sea
As with many studies, this one started with two emissions pathways defined by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. One of these is RCP 4.5, in which the rise in atmospheric carbon dioxide finally stops toward the end of this century.

The second is RCP 8.5, which represents a “business as usual” approach to emissions, bringing a continued rise in atmospheric CO2.

These were used to drive three climate models that tracked two different periods: the remainder of this century, and a period extending from the present to the year 2300.

Approximately 12,000 storms were tracked per century under these models. 1970-2005 was used as a baseline comparison period.
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