Atlantic tropical cyclone (hurricane) activity, as measured by both frequency and the Power Dissipation Index (which combines storm intensity, duration, and frequency) has increased. The increases are substantial since about 1970, and are likely substantial since the 1950s and 60s, in association with warming Atlantic sea surface temperatures. There is less confidence in data prior to about 1950.
There have been fluctuations in the number of tropical storms and hurricanes from decade to decade, and data uncertainty is larger in the early part of the record compared to the satellite era beginning in 1965. Even taking these factors into account, it is likely that the annual numbers of tropical storms, hurricanes, and major hurricanes in the North Atlantic have increased over the past 100 years, a time in which Atlantic sea surface temperatures also increased.
The evidence is less compelling for significant trends beginning in the late 1800s. The existing data for hurricane counts and one adjusted record of tropical storm counts both indicate no significant linear trends beginning from the mid- to late 1800s through 2005. In general, there is increasing uncertainty in the data as one proceeds back in time.
There is no evidence for a long-term increase in North American mainland land-falling hurricanes.
The hurricane Power Dissipation Index in the eastern Pacific, affecting the Mexican west coast and shipping lanes, has decreased since 1980, but rainfall from near-coastal hurricanes has increased since 1949.
It is very likely that the human-induced increase in greenhouse gases has contributed to the increase in sea surface temperatures in the hurricane formation regions. Over the past 50 years there has been a strong statistical connection between tropical Atlantic sea surface temperatures and Atlantic hurricane activity as measured by the Power Dissipation Index (which combines storm intensity, duration, and frequency). This evidence suggests a human contribution to recent hurricane activity. However, a confident assessment of human influence on hurricanes will require further studies using models and observations, with emphasis on distinguishing natural from human-induced changes in hurricane activity through their influence on factors such as historical sea surface temperatures, wind shear, and atmospheric vertical stability.
It is likely that hurricane/typhoon wind speeds and core rainfall rates will increase in response to human-caused warming. Analyses of model simulations suggest that for each 1°C increase in tropical sea surface temperatures, hurricane surface wind speeds will increase by 1 to 8% and core rainfall rates by 6 to 18%.
Frequency changes are currently too uncertain for confident projections.
The spatial distribution of hurricanes/typhoons will likely change.
Storm surge levels are likely to increase due to projected sea level rise, though the degree of projected increase has not been adequately studied.