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Warmer Seas, Stronger Storms

Despite both models and observations linking warmer ocean temperatures (from global warming) to stronger hurricanes, typhoons and cyclones, some climate scientists remained doubtful of the link, citing the action of wind shear or natural storm cycles as potentially greater causes than warmer water. Researchers from the Georgia Institute of Technology, however, have just published a report in Science demonstrating a very strong connection between warm seas and powerful storms.

Climate scientists already know that, throughout the world, hurricanes have grown in intensity although not necessarily in frequency over the past few decades [...]. So [Dr. Judith] Curry and her colleagues examined existing data on a range of climate variables, correlating changes in these factors with trends in the occurrence of higher-category hurricanes.

Globally, only sea surface temperature increased in line with super-strong hurricanes, Curry's team reports in Science.

This is bad news for locations like the US Gulf Coast, Central America and (just this week) Australia's northern Queensland region, battered by increasingly strong storms. Places already damaged by storms stand every chance of being hit again, and political resistance to rebuilding at-risk cities will only grow with each big storm.


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