Seven days of flooding in the wake of Cyclone Guba has left more than 150 dead, and affected nearly 150,000 in Papua New Guinea, according to international press reports. The storm hit with tropical storm-force winds earlier this week.
Food shortages and water-borne disease are now chief concerns, as the water-logged nation off the northeast coast of Australia recovers.
Tropical cyclones have a variety of names in different parts of the world. Americans are most familiar with the terms tropical storm and hurricane, but cyclones and typhoons are in the same family of storms. Scientists still debate their relationship to global warming.
Some research suggests the frequency or intensity of cyclones will increase - or already has increased - with warmer ocean temperatures, but long term data is hard to come by, given the advances in observational techniques developed in recent decades. That makes comparing the historical record to today difficult, and pins the connection between global warming and tropical storms less on observational data than on computer models.
While the Northern Hemisphere tropical storm season, including the Atlantic, is quieting now, the Southern Hemisphere tropical storm season is just gearing up.
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