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The image of a hurricane-spawning smokestack was used to promote the film, An Inconvenient Truth.
Author of the theory that global warming breeds stronger hurricanes recants his view

Noted Hurricane Expert Kerry Emanuel has publicly reversed his stance on the impact of Global Warming on Hurricanes. Saying "The models are telling us something quite different from what nature seems to be telling us," Emanuel has released new research indicating that even in a rapidly warming world, hurricane frequency and intensity will not be substantially affected.

"The results surprised me," says Emanuel, one of the media's most quoted figures on the topic.

The view that global warming has limited impact on hurricane strength has been previously reported in numerous DailyTech articles.

Emanuel, professor of Atmospheric Science at MIT, is the author of numerous books and research papers on climate change. For over twenty years, he has argued that global warming breeds more frequent and stronger storms.  In fact, his 1987 paper is often cited as the first appearance of the theory itself.

His 2005 research -- published just one month before Hurricane Katrina struck -- made world headlines, and was heralded as the "final proof" that Global Warming was already having severe impacts on daily lives.  Overnight, Emanuel became a media darling.  The following year, Time Magazine named him to their "100 People Who Shape Our World" list.

In 2006, Al Gore used an image of a smokestack spawning a hurricane to promote his movie, An Inconvenient Truth.

Emanuel's newest work, co-authored with two other researchers, simulates hurricane conditions nearly 200 years in the future. The research -- the first to mesh global climate models with small-scale high-resolution simulations of individual storms -- found that while storm strength rises slightly in some areas, it falls in others -- and the total number of worldwide storms actually declines slightly.

Emanuel's reversal is certain to reverberate through political circles as well; many politicians and candidates are using the hurricane threat to compel action on climate change.

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RE: Is this a reversal?
By masher2 on 4/14/2008 1:44:15 AM , Rating: 2
You have to go a little deeper than the abstract. From the article itself:
...this suggests either that the greater part of the large global increase in power dissipation over the past 27 yr cannot be ascribed to global warming, or that there is some systematic deficiency in our technique or in global models that leads to the underprediction of the response of tropical cyclones to global warming.
Given Emanuel's original stance as the "father" of the GW-induced megastorm hypothesis, his new position is indeed a full reversal. His 2005 paper was cited endlessly as proof of the exact opposite of the above -- that GW was *already* causing significant increases in storm strength.

RE: Is this a reversal?
By pliny on 4/14/2008 3:03:34 AM , Rating: 2
Well, this relates to an explanation of past total power dissipation, not prediction of frequencies or intensities. And he doesn't say the GW had no role. But he is explicit about the consistency of the results of his new technique and previous studies:
Thus, the present results are broadly consistent with those of global model studies in that both generally show an increased frequency of very intense storms, but some tendency toward a reduction in the overall frequency of events in the Southern Hemisphere. The simplicity of the intensity model and natural selection technique employed here allows us to draw a fairly definitive conclusion about why the frequency of events declines in some places in our simulations.

RE: Is this a reversal?
By masher2 on 4/14/2008 9:22:39 AM , Rating: 2
> "And he doesn't say the GW had no role."

He says either GW has no role in increasing storm intensity, or his models are wrong. At little as two years ago, he was saying his models proved that GW strenthened storms.

RE: Is this a reversal?
By pliny on 4/14/2008 7:00:56 PM , Rating: 2
It may be nit-picking, but:
the greater part of the large global increase in power dissipation over the past 27 yr cannot be ascribed to global warming
is not saying that none of it can be ascribed to global warming. It it is similar to this 2005 caveat:
The above discussion suggests that only part of the observed increase in tropical cyclone power dissipation is directly due to increased SSTs; the rest can only be explained by changes in other factors known to influence hurricane intensity, such as vertical wind shear
And he didn't say in 2005 that his models proved anything, he said
My results suggest that future warming may lead to an upward trend in tropical cyclone destructive potential

RE: Is this a reversal?
By masher2 on 4/14/2008 7:35:05 PM , Rating: 2
> "He didn't say in 2005 that his models proved anything"

He most certainly did. Not only in hundreds of media interviews, but also in his book, What We Know About Climate Change:

> " not saying that none of it can be ascribed to global warming"

You have this in reverse. What Emanuel is saying is that the evidence says there's no link to GW. The "greater part" he refers to is the only thing he has data far.

Is he ruling out entirely a minor increase not shown in the data? Of course one can ever disprove below the margin of error. But he's saying no evidence for it exists.

RE: Is this a reversal?
By pliny on 4/14/2008 8:05:11 PM , Rating: 2
Well, he wrote a lot. But I wish you'd give quotes of what he actually said.

Here's a press release that went with his 2005 Nature paper - perhaps his period of greatest prominence, The most you'll find is
Also of concern, he says, is that the increases in storm intensity are mirrored by increases in the average temperatures at the surface of the tropical oceans, suggesting that this warming is responsible for the hurricanes' greater power. Since hurricanes depend on warm water to form and build, Emanuel warns that global climate change might increase the effect of hurricanes still further in coming years.
The first sentence might sound like he's linking AGW and hurricanes. But he's just pointing to a correlation between observed SST rises and hurricane power. The AGW link is possible, but he's not claiming it is proved.

RE: Is this a reversal?
By masher2 on 4/14/2008 10:19:23 PM , Rating: 2
From an MIT press release:
Earlier in the summer, Emanuel reported that hurricanes have grown more powerful and destructive over the last three decades due in part to global warming...

From a media account of his research:
Hurricanes have grown fiercer in recent decades, spurred by global warming, and even tougher storms are likely on the way, [Emanuel] predicts...

From the intro to an interview with Emanuel, aired in 2005:

Emanuel’s latest research, published in Nature Magazine, shows a startling global increase in hurricane strength and duration, which he correlates to rising sea temperatures linked to global warming .

From the intro to a speech given by Emanuel
his latest research, published in a recent issue of the journal Nature, which correlates the greater increasing hurricane intensity with human-induced global warming...

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