Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Sea Surface Warming Linked to More, Worse Tropical Storms

Terra-Daily is reporting on some work by climate researchers at Purdue University that follows-up a recent study by Kerry Emanuel , which was reported upon and criticized here. This new work corroborates Emanuel's contention that:

...rising temperatures of tropical waters-- both on the surface and just below the surface - are causing more intense cyclones in the southern Pacific Ocean and hurricanes, their rotational opposites, in the Atlantic Ocean.

The research also supports a popular notion that warming global average temperatures are contributing to increasingly severe and more frequent tropical storms - such as Hurricane Katrina, a Category 4 storm that devastated New Orleans, La., and other parts of the U.S. Gulf Coast in 2005.

What I think we are seeing here is a pattern typical of the claims and counterclaims being made in the global warming debate. A testable, empirical claim is advanced concerning the effects of global warming on some climatic or other pattern (the slowing of the Pacific trade winds, the spread of mosquito-borne diseases). The claim is then criticized, sometimes in scientific circles, but often through the right wing press. (In this case we have a bit of both, with the Washington Times, a highly conservative paper, serving as the vehicle for legitimate scientific counter-arguments.) Finally, the claim is, sometimes slowly and sometimes quickly, substantiated. In this case, Emanuel's original results were reported just last year.

This particular case is important, as the global warming = stronger/more powerful storms is an equation pushed strongly in Al Gore's Inconvenient Truth. The political right has been attempting strenuously to debunk it.

So far, it looks like Al is right again.

5 comments:

small 'l' said...

Brace yourself for the conservative trolls from Andrew Coyne's recent blog. They'll reiterate the same substandard arguments against action on global warming.

You see, it's the economic pain they've always refused to accept that must be faced now rather than wait for the inevitable future pain that will not be pretty.

"The modern conservative is engaged in one of man's oldest exercises in moral philosophy; that is, the search for a superior moral justification for selfishness." John Kenneth Galbraith

Anonymous said...

I thought Andy was dead...

bigcitylib said...

He got better.

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