Storms & Global Warming II

Earlier this year, we posted two discussions on the association between climate change and storms: Storms and Climate Change and Some recent updates. I will use the abbreviation TC here in the loose meaning of a tropical cyclone. These posts discussed the high number of TCs during the previous hurricane season and an essay on the relation between TCs and climate change. The uncertainty surrounding trends in storminess was underlined, and a point was being made about this subject being controversial.

Whereas some meteorologists believe that there is not a link between gobal warming and storms, there has also been a recent model study on how the storm statistics can be affected by a global warming that we failed to mention in the previous discussion. Furthermore, a new analysis published in Nature by Kerry Emanuel (‘Increasing destructiveness of tropical cyclones over the past 30 years’) points to a high correlation between the power of the TCs and the sea surface temperature (SST). This paper is also discussed in The New Scientist. He suggests that a likely consequence of a future warming is an upward trend in the destructive potential of TCs. Emanuel argues that a net power dissipation is a better indicator of TC threat than their frequency or intensity alone.



The conclusion of Emanuel at first sight appears to contrast with the a recent statement from NOAA that a 20-30-year reoccurring cycle is the dominant climate factor that controls Atlantic hurricane activity and that any potentially weak signal associated with longer-term climate change appears to be a minor factor. But, in fact, Emanuel acknowedged the lack of a trend in the frequency of the TCs, but finds a trend in their their destructive power which is related to their intensity and duration.

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