As Hurricane Florence pounds the Caribbean, the most authoritative scientific study of its kind has concluded what many people have suspected: that increasing sea temperatures caused by global warming are responsible for more intense and devastating storms, such as hurricanes and tornados.

The scientists have found that emissions from burning fossil fuels are to blame for driving temperatures upwards in tropical waters where hurricanes form. They predict warmer ocean waters will energize hurricanes and make them more powerful. If sea temperatures continue to rise, scientists fear that category four and five hurricanes, such as Katrina, which battered New Orleans last summer, will become more commonplace.

Nathan Gillett, a co-author of the study at the climatic research unit at the University of East Anglia, said: “We know the oceans have been warming in these regions and some scientists have said it was because of natural events. But this study confirms that it cannot be explained by a natural cycle.”

Tom Wigley, another scientist on the study, at the National Centre for Atmospheric Research in Boulder, Colorado, added: “The best explanation for these increases has to include a large human influence. We expect global temperatures and sea surface temperatures to increase more rapidly over the next century.”

Still fancy that nice holiday to the Caribbean?