Hurricanes are unlikely to become more frequent as the world warms, according to a new analysis by a scientists who until now had supported a link between global warming and tropical cyclone activity. But they may still become more intense.
"The hurricane expert, Kerry Emanuel of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, unveiled a novel technique for predicting future hurricane activity this week," according to a report in the Houston Chronicle. "The new work suggests that, even in a dramatically warming world, hurricane frequency and intensity may not substantially rise during the next two centuries."
2007 saw fewer hurricanes than expected, though there were several rapidly-intensifying cyclones in the Atlantic basin. The early prediction for 2008 is for an above-average year filled with frequent storms and several intense hurricanes.
The art of hurricane prediction, even just a few weeks ahead of a season, is young. Scientists readily acknowledge that the list of unknown influences on hurricane activity is likely to be long.
As the Chronicle put it:
"Scientists wrangling with the hurricane-global warming question have faced two primary difficulties. The first is that the hurricane record before 1970 is not entirely reliable, making it nearly impossible to assess with precision whether hurricane activity has increased during the last century. The second problem comes through the use of computer models to predict hurricane activity. Most climate models, which simulate global atmospheric conditions for centuries to come, cannot detect individual tropical systems."
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