Changing Hurricanes

Part of the Climate Change exhibition.

American flag flying over building destroyed in Hurricane Katrina, 2005
Hurricane Katrina aftermath, Ninth Ward, New Orleans, Louisiana, August, 2006.
Bill Haber/AP

Scientists are not entirely sure how hurricanes will be affected by climate change. Many experts think that warmer ocean waters will provide more energy for these storms, making them more powerful. But since climate change affects wind and weather patterns, it is difficult to predict how much more intense hurricanes could become.

Hurricane Katrina

Hurricane Katrina in 2005 was the most destructive storm in U.S. history, taking over 1,800 lives, destroying 300,000 homes and nearly 400 square kilometers (150 square miles) of coastal wetlands, and costing the country more than $100 billion. Although scientists cannot say whether Katrina was related to climate change, the hurricane serves as an important cautionary tale about the hazards of intense storms.