Hurricanes and global warming: the reluctant truth

Scientists don’t think the big increase in Atlantic hurricanes and their ferocity is a result of global warming.  

I rather wish they were, because Hurricane Katrina has had a major impact in convincing Americans that the human contribution to climate change has to be taken seriously.  Since America is the biggest polluter in the world, and since no solution can possibly be found without America as a major participator, I am reluctant to say that there are perhaps some aspects of the weather for which we are not responsible.

But the evidence seems pretty compelling.  Deposits trapped in sediment and coral deposits show a record of hurricane activity, and hurricanes have run in patterns for at least 270 years.  Most recently, there was a decline in major hurricanes between 1971 and 1994 when there were an average of 1.5  hurricanes each year.  Since then the average has increased to 4.1 a year.  

My temptation is not to publish this.  But ultimately, I don’t think suppressing the evidence is going to help.  And I should add that scientists think it is quite possible that higher sea temperatures will contribute to more intense hurricanes as the oceans continue to heat up.

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About Terry Sissons

Terry Sissons is the author of The Big Bang to Now: All of Time in Six Chunks, and this blog is a dialogue about the universe and what’s happened in the last 13 billions years.
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