Hurricane Irma's incredible strength 'fueled by global warming'

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One of Britain’s leading climate experts said today Hurricane Irma was so strong because of unusually warm seas fueled by global warming.

Professor Sir Brian Hoskins, chairman of the Grantham Institute for Climate Change at Imperial College London, warned that at this rate fiercer tropical cyclones could take place in the future.

Irma began when puffs of unstable air and storms gathered near islands of the west coast of Africa about a week ago.

These were then pushed over the warm, open Atlantic where most storms fizzle out, but these were whipped up to form Hurricane Irma.

Normally cold water or high altitude winds combine to help neutralise storms.

But the water in the Gulf has been warmer, and running deeper, than normal, at least 28C, enabling the storm to intensify.

Government buildings left abandoned after Hurricane Irma destruction

Ferocious wind and rain then blew at 185mph across the Gulf of Mexico.

Professor Hoskins said: “With the warmer oceans water that we have now because of the greenhouse gases we’ve emitted into the atmosphere, it makes the chance of extreme tropical cyclones that much greater.

“There’s the potential for bigger storms.

“It’s not unusual to have a sequence, it’s the power of them.”

He added: “If the ocean is one degree warmer, the atmosphere above it can hold seven per cent more water.

“With a couple degrees, you can start getting 20 per cent more rainfall.”

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