J. M. W. Turner/Wikimedia Commons

Shipwreck logs show a calm 17th century for Atlantic hurricanes

Hurricanes in the Atlantic Ocean dropped by 75% during a cool period in the late 1600s, The Washington Post reports. Researchers already knew that cooler weather means less intense hurricanes, because the storms draw their strength from warm water. To see whether this showed up in the historical record, researchers looked at shipwreck logs from the Caribbean over a period of about 300 years—and found a decrease in shipwrecks in the cooler era known as the “Maunder Minimum,” lasting from 1645 to 1715, they report this week in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. The evidence was echoed in the growth rings of pine trees in the Florida Keys; years with fewer shipwrecks also showed less stunted growth caused by the storms. As the climate warms, scientists say the strength of these storms is likely to increase, too—but hopefully, we can at least avoid the shipwrecks! 

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