A century's worth of records suggests that hurricanes are on the rise and a warming Atlantic is to blame
Using records dating back to 1855, hurricane researchers say they have uncovered an ongoing rise in the number of Atlantic hurricanes that tracks the increase in sea surface temperature related to climate change. Critics of such a link argue that this trend is merely because of better observations since the dawn of the satellite era in the 1970s. But the authors of the new study say the conclusion is hard to dodge.
"Even if we take the extreme of these error estimates, we are left with a significant trend since 1890 and a significant trend in major hurricanes starting anytime before 1920," say atmospheric scientists Greg Holland of the National Center for Atmospheric Research in Boulder, Colo., and Peter Webster of the Georgia Institute of Technology in Atlanta.
Update: You can read Holland and Webster's full paper here. [.pdf]. Chris Landsea (specialist with the National Hurricane Center) post a rebuttle here [.pdf] (interestinly enough, prior to the paper's release). Further discussion on both items can be found at Chris Mooney's blog, The Intersection.
More on this news item at National Geographic and New Scientist (UK). For further information, please see the links to the researchers' pages included above. Also, see Chris Mooney's recent book Storm World for more on the history of hurricane study, meteorology and climate science (my current reading).
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