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Another milder-than-normal season takes shape

During the active 2005 hurricane season, the usual doom-and-gloom prophets blamed the storms on global warming. "Nature's wrath," we were told, "hath been unleashed". Aided by a complaisant media, we were told this was our wakeup call, come to punish us for our SUV-driving ways.

Then disaster struck.  The 2006 season not only didn't live up to predictions, it wound up being one of the quietest seasons of the past century. No matter. We were told to ignore this year-long blip, told that 2007 would come roaring back with a vengeance.

And yet, here we are, two full months into the season, and not a single hurricane has formed. Not one. Just two mild tropical storms, one of which didn't even strike land, and a third storm which never went above subtropical status. Hurricane forecasters are busily downgrading their predictions for the rest of the season.

And so it goes. The sky isn't falling yet. But what about the future? Will global warming wreck all our beach-going vacations?

There are two schools of thought regarding the effects of climate change on hurricane science. The first begins with the fact that hurricanes require warm water to form. Global warming means warmer water, leading to the naive conclusion is that more hurricanes will form. The second school realizes that hurricanes are heat engines -- driven not by raw temperature, but by temperature differentials between regions. Global warming warms the arctic and temperate belts, but not the tropics. This reduces the total energy available for major storm formation. It also increases upper-level wind shear, which tends to tear apart storms before they grow too strong. This school believes the long term effects of global warming will be fewer, milder storms.

Climate change aside, hurricanes come and go in cycles. Professor William Gray, one of the nation's most respected hurricane forecasters, believes storm activity will remain high for the next several years, due simply to a long-term cycle of changing Atlantic currents. A team of researchers led by Dr. Chris Landsea of the National Hurricane Center goes further. In a paper published last year, they claim storm rates have not risen over the past 100 years, but only that improved monitoring technology results in registering storms which would have previously been missed. And professors Vecchi and Soden's research on wind shear suggests no long-term storm activity increase should be expected.

I don't know about the rest of you, but I'm not selling my ocean-front condo just yet.


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By High Planes Drifter on 8/1/2007 10:40:03 PM , Rating: 2
I find it vary hard to believe that you have read the paper. From Lockwood and Frohlich et al:

quote:
…Figure 3 shows the variations since 1970 of the solar cycle means of the sunspot number hRiL, the open solar flux hFSiL, the climax cosmic ray neutron counts hCiL and the solar cycle length L. In each case, the solar cycle variation has been smoothed to give the red line, using exactly the same procedure as described in §3 for figure 3a. Figure 3 shows that the smoothed sunspot number hRiL clearly peaked around 1985 and has declined since and the anticorrelation with L seen in figure 4 has persisted. The open solar flux peaked around 1987, the 2-year lag after hRiL being consistent with the time constant from models of its long-term variation (Solanki et al. 2000, 2001; Wang et al. 2005b). The anticorrelation between cosmic ray fluxes and the open solar flux, observed on both annual and decadal time scales (Rouillard & Lockwood 2004), is here shown to also apply to the trends revealed when the solar cycle is averaged out. hTSIiL has fallen since the peak hRiL in 1985 and this is reflected in the significantly lower peak seen at the current solar minimum than during the previous two solar minima (see figure 1d ).

p10

quote:
Our results show that the observed rapid rise in global mean temperatures seen after 1985 cannot be ascribed to solar variability, whichever of the mechanisms is invoked and no matter how much the solar
variation is amplified.

p11


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