Link between cyclones, climate change unclear

Oct 31, 2012 by Claire Snegaroff And Richard Ingham
The Tampa Bay Times Forum is seen in August 2012 as the city prepared for the Republican National Convention as Tropical Storm Isaac caused disruptions. Many climate scientists would agree climate change is behind droughts and floods, but when it comes to tropical storms, experts don't have an answer.

Was Hurricane Sandy caused by climate change? This was the contention Tuesday of Andrew Cuomo, governor of New York state, which bore the brunt of the superstorm.

"Anyone who thinks there isn't a change in is denying reality," he said.

Many climate scientists would agree with Cuomo when it comes to identifying the cause of the record-breaking droughts and floods of recent years.

But when it comes to , the experts also say they cannot give a black-or-white answer for one of the most complex issues in meteorology.

Tropical storms are fuelled by warm seas, so intuition says that as ocean temperatures rise, hurricanes—known as typhoons in Asia—should become more frequent and more brutal.

But a clear rise in Earth's surface temperature since the 1970s has so far failed to engender a similar increase in tropical cyclone numbers, which have remained stable at about 90 per year.

In the Atlantic alone, however, the US (NOAA) says major storms have become more frequent and intense since 1995.

The agency also warns that science right now cannot tease out how much of the change should be attributed to natural climate variability, and how much to man-made warming.

As for the future, experts give conflicting or sketchy predictions of what could happen this century, when surface temperatures are predicted to warm two or three degrees Celsius (3.5 to five degrees Fahrenheit).

"There is some evidence to suggest that with climate change we might see stronger wind speeds but that the overall number of (will show) no change or maybe even go down a little bit," said Tom Mitchell, head of climate change at Britain's Overseas Development Institute.

Serge Planton, head of climate research at French weather forecasting service Meteo France, explained why the picture is so fuzzy.

"It's a very complex phenomenon," he said.

"A cyclone depends not only on the sea surface temperature, but also on the structure of the winds at every layer of the atmosphere. This means it does not respond in a simple, linear fashion to climate change."

When it comes to storm surge, there seems to be more scientific consensus that climate change's impact is clear.

Sandy's swells were entirely consistent with scenarios sketched by the UN's Intergovernment Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) in a report on extreme weather events, published in March, contended Mitchell.

"What the IPCC said there is with sea level rising a little bit already and with the potential for stronger storms, we are likelier to see surges increasing."

Mitchell was a coordinating lead author in the report.

"At some level, we can point to the signal in that," he said.

"The examples that we are seeing in New York today of very considerable storm surges are directly in line with the predictions of the IPCC."

The IPCC report had said it was also likely that tropical cyclones will increase rainfall this century, and placed a heavy emphasis on preparedness to reduce the risk to lives and property.

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philw1776
4 / 5 (9) Oct 31, 2012
What about the decade of the 50s where between 1954 and 1960 something like 10 hurricanes struck between North Carolina and New England? Point being, unusual events happen. One or two outliers is not a trend. God help us were the pols and press to make extrapolations based on that decade.
cantdrive85
1.6 / 5 (13) Oct 31, 2012
There is absolutely a link between tropical cyclones and climate change, we live within the plasmasphere of a variable electric star. As the energy output varies so too will the weather and climate.
Maggnus
3.8 / 5 (10) Oct 31, 2012
There is absolutely a link between tropical cyclones and climate change, we live within the plasmasphere of a variable electric star. As the energy output varies so too will the weather and climate.


What a load of crap.
rubberman
2.8 / 5 (5) Nov 01, 2012
What about the decade of the 50s where between 1954 and 1960 something like 10 hurricanes struck between North Carolina and New England? Point being, unusual events happen. One or two outliers is not a trend. God help us were the pols and press to make extrapolations based on that decade.


15 hurricanes have made landfall in Newfoundland in recorded history, but 7 of them since 1995, 8 in the previous 200 years.

84 hitting New york in recorded history, but 23 since 1995, 61 in the previous 380 years.

Both happening in the same year of a summer cyclone in the arctic ocean and an almost full melt of the greenland ice sheet extending over 3 days.

Should we extrapolate based on this info?
ryggesogn2
3 / 5 (6) Nov 01, 2012
People shouldn't build on sand or below sea level or on a flood plain. The first major '100 yr' event that wipes out the area should be sufficient to motivate everyone to move away.
But not today. Today, govts step in and subsidies rebuilding. If such rebuilding was robust, maybe it could work. But, typically, that is not the case.
Let the free market work. If you want to build on shifting sands, you pay for it and for any insurance you need. Not the taxpayers.

BTW, maybe NYC should do what Chicago did, drill deep into their bedrock to create a sump to keep the subways dry.
Howhot
1 / 5 (1) Nov 02, 2012
R2 says
People shouldn't build on sand or below sea level or on a flood plain. The first major '100 yr' event that wipes out the area should be sufficient to motivate everyone to move away.


That is really good common-sense advice. But do private free markets heed that knowledge? Not when a quick buck is at stake. No R2, your market driven solution is just bound to fail without regulatory guidance!

The best system is the one where there are both governments of citizen politicians and the free enterprise system working together.
VendicarD
1 / 5 (3) Nov 03, 2012
People shouldn't smoke either.

"People shouldn't build on sand or below sea level or on a flood plain." - RyggTard

Why do Libertarian organizations like the Heritage Foundation promote smoking as a "Lifestyle choice" that children should "seriously consider"?

Wasn't your hero Ayn Rand a several pack a day smoker who insisted that scientists were involved in a global conspiracy to destroy freedom and Capitalism when their research found a link between smoking and lung cancer?

Yes, I'm sure she was.
HannesAlfven
1 / 5 (4) Nov 04, 2012
Re: "[W]e live within the plasmasphere of a variable electric star ... What a load of crap."

The atmospheric sciences researchers could learn a lot about uncertainty in science by observing the astrophysical community's outright refusal to consider competing paradigms. They possess no philosophical or rational technical objections to legitimate questions about how the Sun works, for solar science is hardly empirical, certain or predictive science. But, faith in the solar models persists nonetheless -- quite similar, in fact, to the treatment of weather and climate models (all of which exhibit rather similar track records).

There is, in truth, nothing at all wrong with the view that the heliosphere is a plasma sphere. After all, the universe is dominated by matter in the plasma state, and just as one would expect, the solar wind fails to appreciably decelerate even as it passes the Earth's orbit -- suggesting charge accumulation and an electric field at the Sun.
HannesAlfven
1 / 5 (5) Nov 04, 2012
What we tend to get, instead of critical thinking, is a widespread refusal amongst atmospheric scientists to question the assumptions inherent to the astrophysical models, upon which their own models must be based. Is the universe truly dominated by gravity? A reasonable opinion is in fact no, for the models cannot be made to work without an enormous amount of extra, invisible matter. To simply assume that this hypothetical matter exists, and to not hedge ones' bets by forcing alternative inferences, based upon competing scientific paradigms, is risk-taking at its finest. And, at the end of the day, the ostracism which you see prevalent on forums like this one towards any creative idea which diverges from conventional theory will -- with far more certainty than the existing models themselves -- lead to a definite conclusion: that the eagerness to cast the question of climate change as simply a technical challenge, without a need to question assumptions, will ultimately FAIL.
HannesAlfven
1 / 5 (5) Nov 04, 2012
As our university system starts to rethink the way in which we are teaching science, as a process of collaboratively constructing knowledge instead of the old way of having students memorize facts, future scientists and students will look to this narrative as an incredible lesson learned. A person could, however, not understand from observing forums like this one that great changes are underfoot with how we teach science. The old system of clinging to models, even as they fail to make accurate predictions, is a natural consequence of having students memorize facts. Nobody should actually be surprised that when we emphasize memorization that we get scientists who are simply unable to question the models which they've memorized.

Eric Mazur has demonstrated, rather conclusively, that students who can ace exams filled with problem sets will nevertheless struggle to solve concept-based exams (force concept inventories). To assume this has no effect upon theory itself is extraordinary.
ValeriaT
1 / 5 (2) Nov 04, 2012
My link is the following: the higher temperature gradient of atmosphere established during global warming will switch the circulation of atmosphere from horizontal into vertical one like the gradual heating of water in the shallow pot. It brings droughts into inland, because the humidity cannot travel at distance from the sea. It makes climate more turbulent and prone to brief but shallow fluctuations. But when the circulation becomes vertical only (the number of vertical convective cells in the atmosphere increases) then the horizontal tornadoes cannot form anymore. Which is for example why we don't observe the hurricanes at Venus with exception of polar areas: the whole atmosphere is one pair of convective cells and it circulates wildly. The tornadoes are like the sun spots or bubbles in water: they're rather product of accumulation of energy during convection, rather than the manifestation of it. The more intensive convection decreases the opportunity for accumulation of energy
Maggnus
5 / 5 (1) Nov 05, 2012
The atmospheric sciences researchers could learn a lot about uncertainty in science by observing the astrophysical community's outright refusal to consider competing paradigms. They possess no philosophical or rational technical objections to legitimate questions about how the Sun works, for solar science is hardly empirical, certain or predictive science. But, faith in the solar models persists nonetheless -- quite similar, in fact, to the treatment of weather and climate models (all of which exhibit rather similar track records).


Just a bigger load of crap. The electric universe is hogwash and scientists do not take it seriously because it has been shown to be wrong.