Typhoons that devastate the coastlines of East and Southeast Asia have intensified by up to 50 percent in the last 40 years, according to the study published in the journal Nature Geoscience. However, experts believe that this would not get better but would most likely increase further due to global warming.

“It is a very, very substantial increase,” says lead researcher Wei Mei, a professor at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. “We believe the results are very important for east Asian countries because of the huge population in these areas. People should be aware of the increase in typhoon intensity because when they make landfall, these can cause much more damage.”

The study involved analyzing data collected by researchers at the Joint Typhoon Warning Center in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii and by the Japan Meteorological Agency. They found that typhoons in the northwestern region of the Pacific have intensified between 12 and 15 percent since 1977. The occurrences of the most destructive storms, categories 4 and 5, have increased two times, and in some cases, even three times.

The increasing temperatures of coastal areas provide more energy for storms. In the process, the wind speeds also intensify more quickly.

Sea surface temperatures are expected to increase more quickly in areas located at latitudes above 20 degrees. So areas from Taiwan northwards will most likely suffer from more violent, more intense typhoons in the future.

However, the research team cannot identify what caused the increase in sea temperatures. They cannot say if humans are to be blamed for this or this is simply the product of natural cycles.

Nevertheless, they assert that their findings show that we need to act now so we can be more prepared for more intense typhoons. The team suggests reducing the amount of the carbon dioxide to alleviate global warming.