Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Hurricanes and Global Warming

Science News Article | Reuters.com

A professor from my alma mater, Florida State University, has performed a statistical analysis in an effort to determine if the atmosphere determines the ocean temperature of if the ocean influences the atmosphere. His findings in a nutshell:

He found that average air temperatures during hurricane season between June and November were useful in predicting sea surface temperatures, but not the other way around.

"It appears that atmospheric warming comes before sea warming," he said, indicating that hurricane damage will be likely to continue increasing because of greenhouse warming.

How did he determine this?
Elsner looked at 135 years of records to examine the statistical connection between Atlantic sea surface temperatures and air temperatures near the sea surface, and then compared them to records of hurricane intensities.

Where does Elsner stand on the current dueling theories of global warming or normal ocean change?

Elsner described himself as "sympathetic" to the idea of human-induced global warming but said his research merely tried to determine whether there was a link between climate change and intense hurricanes.

"I think there are ocean currents that warm and cool the oceans," he said. "But it's not clear that kind of change is a multidecadal change and I'm not clear that there is a strong natural variability in the Atlantic."

I would need to read the entire scientific paper, but these are the small steps that science makes to either support or refute theories. And the theory that global warming is having an effect on the intensity of hurricanes is gaining. However, it is also true that today we have better tools to measure intensity of hurricanes. How do we know that the hurricane that wiped out the settlement at Pensacola wasn't as big as, say, Hurricane Ivan or Katrina?


jarhead john said...

I'm hard pressed to believe that man has the ability to change the global climate with our day to day operations. Especially given that we're putting less pollutants in the air now, than we were many decades ago in the age of "burn anything for energy, damn the black clouds gathering over our cities."

The key element of his findings, and most similar studies, is that nobody knows, except of course Al Gore.

Sarabeth said...

And if, say, Tom Delay or Trent Lott were to tout global warming as a problem, would you believe then?

Is it the message or the messenger, JJ, that you oppose?

And, the U.S. and Europe might be reducing their pollutants, but what about India, China?

I'm open to the other theories of current weather patterns. What bothers me is that many out there naysay anything that has to do with global warming, much like people used to naysay that CFC's were depleting the ozone. Guess what? Less CFC's floating around--the hole in the ozone is getting smaller.

jarhead john said...

The only person that I spoke critically of was Algore. The findings, like in many other studies, are pretty clear cut. Nobody has been able to prove that man is causing hurricanes, although Algore claims otherwise.