Monday, August 08, 2005

Confirmation of Predictions of Global Warming Models and Theory

Below is an abstract of a new article appearing in the recent edition of the scientific journal Nature (vol. 436, pages 686-688). MIT researcher Kerry Emanuel reports on the increasing destructiveness of tropical cyclones over the past 30 years, which has been predicted by meteorological theory and gobal warming computer models.

Theory and modelling predict that hurricane intensity should increase with increasing global mean temperatures, but work on the detection of trends in hurricane activity has focused mostly on their frequency and shows no trend. Here I define an index of the potential destructiveness of hurricanes based on the total dissipation of power, integrated over the lifetime of the cyclone, and show that this index has increased markedly since the mid-1970s. This trend is due to both longer storm lifetimes and greater storm intensities. I find that the record of net hurricane power dissipation is highly correlated with tropical sea surface temperature, reflecting well-documented climate signals, including multi-decadal oscillations in the North Atlantic and North Pacific, and global warming. My results suggest that future warming may lead to an upward trend in tropical cyclone destructive potential, and—taking into account an increasing coastal population—a substantial increase in hurricane-related losses in the twenty-first century.

Coincidentally, this goes along with my last post as far as confining one's belief's and arguments to just 'one or the other' views within a particular field. More often than not, in complex problems, there is no single correct solution or theory, but rather combinations from multiple perspectives and ways of thinking together provide a better way of understanding what is going on. Here, the author suggests that both natural oscillations in tropical sea surface temperatures and global warming, which nearly everyone agrees humans play at least a small role, are creating more destructive cyclones and hurricanes. There are no easy, absolute answers with complex systems, be it global weather or what social/societal structure is best for our children.

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