New research suggests global warming (search) may be making hurricanes more ferocious.

A study by an MIT climatologist finds that major storms in both the Atlantic and the Pacific since the 1970s have increased in duration and intensity by about 50 percent.

These trends are closely linked to increases in the average temperatures of the ocean surface, and they correspond to increases in global average atmospheric temperatures during the same period.

Scientists call the findings both surprising and "alarming," because they suggest global warming is influencing storms now — rather than in the distant future.

However, the research doesn't suggest global warming is generating more hurricanes and typhoons.

The report is in the online version of the journal Nature.

NOAA's Atlantic Oceanographic & Meteorological Laboratory