Is global warming making hurricanes more ferocious? New research suggests the answer is yes. Scientists call the findings both surprising and "alarming" because they suggest global warming is influencing storms now — rather than in the distant future.
However, the research doesn't suggest global warming is generating more hurricanes and typhoons.
The analysis by climatologist Kerry Emanuel of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology shows for the first time that major storms spinning in both the Atlantic and the Pacific since the 1970s have increased in duration and intensity by about 50 percent.
These trends are closely linked to increases in the average temperatures of the ocean surface and also correspond to increases in global average atmospheric temperatures during the same period.
"When I look at these results at face value, they are rather alarming," said research meteorologist Tom Knutson. "These are very big changes."
Knutson, who wasn't involved in the study, works in the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's Geophysical Fluid Dynamics Laboratory in Princeton, N.J.
Emanuel reached his conclusions by analyzing data collected from actual storms rather than using computer models to predict future storm behavior.
I wonder how many people who "don't believe" in global warming have been or will be in the path of a hurricane. And I wonder if "not believing" in global warming prevents them from experiencing damage to life and property.