Hurricane Season –
Are the Storms Getting Severe because of Global Warming?
May 10th, 2006
is just around the corner. There has been concern that global warming
may be causing the increase and severity of the hurricane storms. One
research project from the University of Virginia reported their view
about hurricanes and global warming in the May 10th issue of the journal
of Geophysical Research Letters.
studied the water temperatures as the hurricanes passed through to see
if this was the cause of the increase in storms. They found that warmer
water temperatures were found in only one half of the storms over the
last 25 years. They believe that there are other factors contributing
to the increased number of hurricanes.
"It is too
simplistic to only implicate sea surface temperatures in the dramatic
increase in the number of major hurricanes," said lead author Patrick
Michaels, professor of environmental sciences and director of the
Virginia Climatology Office at the University of Virginia.
plays only part of the equation in a storm developing into a hurricane.
The water temperature must cross a threshold of 89 degrees Fahrenheit.
Other factors such as the atmosphere take over in creation a hurricane.
"At that point,
other factors take over, such as the vertical wind profile, and
atmospheric temperature and moisture gradients," Michaels said.
Michaels does not
believe that global warming is to blame completely for the increase and
severity of the hurricane season in the last few years. Other
environmental changes can contribute the changes in the hurricane
frequency which may be just a cycle of storms.
impacts of global warming on Atlantic hurricanes are minor compared with
the major changes that we have observed over the past couple of years,"
"Some aspects of
the tropical environment have evolved much differently than they were
expected to under the assumption that only increasing greenhouse gases
were involved. This leads me to believe that natural oscillations have
also been responsible for what we have seen," Michaels said.
Michaels does warn
hurricanes could become more frequent with the effects of global
"In the future we
may expect to see more major hurricanes," Michaels said, "but we don't
expect the ones that do form to be any stronger than the ones that we
have seen in the past."
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