Monday, April 14, 2008

Unsettled Science?

One of the biggest disputes in climate change amongst climatologists have been hurricane and other assorted tropical cyclones, with the National Hurricane Center's Dr. Chris Landsea and more then a few paleotempestologists (an admittedly new sub-field of climatology) stating there have been no appreciable trends (and in some basins, a decline as the Earth has warmed) and Dr. Kerry Emanuel among others saying that more intense and numerous tropical cyclones would be among the many catastrophes to befall us as the warming of the Earth accelerated.

Dr. Emanuel has changed his mind.

One of the most influential scientists behind the theory that global warming has intensified recent hurricane activity says he will reconsider his stand.

The hurricane expert, Kerry Emanuel of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, unveiled a novel technique for predicting future hurricane activity this week. The new work suggests that, even in a dramatically warming world, hurricane frequency and intensity may not substantially rise during the next two centuries.

The research, appearing in the March issue of Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society, is all the more remarkable coming from Emanuel, a highly visible leader in his field and long an ardent proponent of a link between global warming and much stronger hurricanes.

His changing views could influence other scientists.

"The results surprised me," Emanuel said of his work, adding that global warming may still play a role in raising the intensity of hurricanes. What that role is, however, remains far from certain

The actual research paper is here. (PDF)

More analysis here and here.

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