Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Climate Change Likely To Intensify Storms, New Study Confirms

Date:
April 19, 2008
Source:
Massachusetts Institute Of Technology
Summary:
Hurricanes in some areas, including the North Atlantic, are likely to become more intense as a result of global warming even though the number of such storms worldwide may decline, according to a new study by MIT researchers. The lead author of the new study, wrote a paper in 2005 reporting an apparent link between a warming climate and an increase in hurricane intensity. That paper attracted worldwide attention because it was published in Nature just three weeks before Hurricane Katrina slammed into New Orleans.

Eye of Hurricane Katrina as viewed from NOAA plane. Hurricanes in some areas, including the North Atlantic, are likely to become more intense as a result of global warming even though the number of such storms worldwide may decline.
Credit: NOAA

Hurricanes in some areas, including the North Atlantic, are likely to become more intense as a result of global warming even though the number of such storms worldwide may decline, according to a new study by MIT researchers.

Kerry Emanuel, the lead author of the new study, wrote a paper in 2005 reporting an apparent link between a warming climate and an increase in hurricane intensity. That paper attracted worldwide attention because it was published in Nature just three weeks before Hurricane Katrina slammed into New Orleans.

Emanuel, a professor of atmospheric science in MIT's Department of Earth, Atmospheric and Planetary Sciences, says the new research provides an independent validation of the earlier results, using a completely different approach. The paper was co-authored by postdoctoral fellow Ragoth Sundararajan and graduate student John Williams and recently appeared in the Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society.

While the earlier study was based entirely on historical records of past hurricanes, showing nearly a doubling in the intensity of Atlantic storms over the last 30 years, the new work is purely theoretical. It made use of a new technique to add finer-scale detail to computer simulations called Global Circulation Models, which are the basis for most projections of future climate change.

"It strongly confirms, independently, the results in the Nature paper," Emanuel said. "This is a completely independent analysis and comes up with very consistent results."

Worldwide, both methods show an increase in the intensity and duration of tropical cyclones, the generic name for what are known as hurricanes in the North Atlantic. But the new work shows no clear change in the overall numbers of such storms when run on future climates predicted using global climate models.

However, Emanuel says, the new work also raises some questions that remain to be understood. When projected into the future, the model shows a continuing increase in power, "but a lot less than the factor of two that we've already seen" he says. "So we have a paradox that remains to be explained."

There are several possibilities, Emanuel says. "The last 25 years' increase may have little to do with global warming, or the models may have missed something about how nature responds to the increase in carbon dioxide."

Another possibility is that the recent hurricane increase is related to the fast pace of increase in temperature. The computer models in this study, he explains, show what happens after the atmosphere has stabilized at new, much higher CO2 concentrations. "That's very different from the process now, when it's rapidly changing," he says.

In the many different computer runs with different models and different conditions, "the fact is, the results are all over the place," Emanuel says. But that doesn't mean that one can't learn from them. And there is one conclusion that's clearly not consistent with these results, he said: "The idea that there is no connection between hurricanes and global warming, that's not supported," he says.

The work was partly funded by the National Science Foundation.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Massachusetts Institute Of Technology. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Massachusetts Institute Of Technology. "Climate Change Likely To Intensify Storms, New Study Confirms." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 19 April 2008. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/04/080417170213.htm>.
Massachusetts Institute Of Technology. (2008, April 19). Climate Change Likely To Intensify Storms, New Study Confirms. ScienceDaily. Retrieved April 24, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/04/080417170213.htm
Massachusetts Institute Of Technology. "Climate Change Likely To Intensify Storms, New Study Confirms." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/04/080417170213.htm (accessed April 24, 2014).

Share This



More Earth & Climate News

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

UN Joint Mission Starts Removing Landmines in Cyprus

UN Joint Mission Starts Removing Landmines in Cyprus

AFP (Apr. 23, 2014) — The UN mission in Cyprus (UNFICYP) led a mine clearance demonstration on Wednesday in the UN-controlled buffer zone where demining operations are being conducted near the Cypriot village of Mammari. Duration: 01:00 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
California Drought Is Good News for Gold Prospectors

California Drought Is Good News for Gold Prospectors

AFP (Apr. 22, 2014) — For months California has suffered from a historic drought. The lack of water is worrying for farmers and ranchers, but for gold diggers it’s a stroke of good fortune. With water levels low, normally inaccessible areas are exposed. Duration: 01:57 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Raw: MN Lakes Still Frozen Before Fishing Opener

Raw: MN Lakes Still Frozen Before Fishing Opener

AP (Apr. 22, 2014) — With only three weeks until Minnesota's fishing opener, many are wondering if the ice will be gone. Some of the Northland lakes are still covered by up to three feet of ice, causing concern that just like last year, the lakes won't be ready. (April 22) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Scientists Warn Of Likely El Niño Event This Year

Scientists Warn Of Likely El Niño Event This Year

Newsy (Apr. 22, 2014) — With Pacific ocean water already showing signs of warming, the NOAA says there's about a 66 percent chance the event will begin before November. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
 
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:  

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:  

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile iPhone Android Web
Follow Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins