Saturday, October 18, 2008

Hurricanes - Truly Hot Air

Scientists have found a direct link between global warming and the intensity of Atlantic hurricanes. There is now proof positive that warmer ocean temperatures affect their intensity. Scientists also predict that hurricane and hurricane-related damage will continue to increase as long as the ocean’s temperature continues to increase. So far, other studies have only managed to tentatively link the increase in temperature to a likely increase in the number of hurricanes.

James Elsner of Florida State University in Tallahassee did an intensive study (50 years of data) on the correlation between the average global near-surface air temperature and Atlantic sea surface temperatures compared with hurricane intensities. His paper was published August 23, 2008 in Geophysical Research Letters.

"The large increases in powerful hurricanes over the past several decades, together with the results presented here, certainly suggest cause for concern," Elsner said. "These results have serious implications for life and property throughout the Caribbean, Mexico, and portions of the United States."

James Elsner, using data from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), found trends and evidence to support the climate change/hurricane-intensity hypothesis.

Never has the United States been so battered by hurricanes and other tropical cyclonic storm systems as in recent years. It is now three years after Hurricane Katrina and New Orleans remains horribly damaged and disfigured still. The devastation was overwhelming, the lives lost unbearable; and, the toll in dollars – still counting.

Hurricane Omar has just been discovered in the Caribbean. It is heading towards the Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico. It is expected to cause flooding and landslides when it hits land there. It has already caused floods in Curacao as well as a partial blackout in Venezuela.

"I infer that future hurricane hazard mitigation efforts should reflect that hurricane damage will continue to increase, in part, due to greenhouse warming," Elsner said. "This research is important to the field of hurricane science by moving the debate away from trend analyses of hurricane counts and toward a physical mechanism that can account for the various observations."

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