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Researchers link hurricanes to rising sea temperatures





inphurno
A small increase in sea temperature can lead to a big increase in hurricane activity, according to British researchers.
Quote:

Researchers at University College London, writing in the journal Nature, said a half-degree temperature increase in sea surface temperatures in the summer can lead to a 40 per cent increase in hurricane frequency.

Mark Saunders, professor of climate prediction at University College London and his colleague Adam Lea built their climate model based on local sea surface temperature and wind data from the last 40 years.

The two did not look at greenhouse gas levels and what role they may have played in sea surface temperatures.

But they wrote that linking hurricane activity to sea surface temperatures could prove useful in making predictions about future hurricane activity in the Atlantic.

Their findings also might explain why 2007, when water temperatures were slightly cooler, was a calmer year for hurricanes, they said.

The study is the latest to wade into hurricane frequency and its connection to climate change, a hotly disputed field of scientific research.

Last week, for example, a study published in the scientific journal Geophysical Research Letters by researchers at the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) argued that global warming would lead to a decrease in the intensity and frequency of hurricanes.

The University College London researchers argue hurricanes feed on warmer water, while the NOAA researchers said that changes in global temperatures result in atmopheric instability that prevents storms from forming.

The UN's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change's findings, representing a consensus of thousands of scientists, said in its January 2007 report that hurricanes are likely to become more intense, but suggested with less confidence that they would actually decrease in number.


http://www.cbc.ca/technology/story/2008/01/30/science-hurricane-temperature.html

A series of studies over the past year or so has shown an increase in the power of hurricanes in the Atlantic and Pacific oceans, a strengthening that storm experts say is tied to rising sea-surface temperatures.
MeddlingMonk
Quote:
A series of studies over the past year or so has shown an increase in the power of hurricanes in the Atlantic and Pacific oceans, a strengthening that storm experts say is tied to rising sea-surface temperatures.


That potentially poses a rather difficult problem for the future, should this relationship between sea temperatures and cyclones actually exist (and should ocean temperatures rise sufficiently). I have heard it mentioned that more severe weather is likely to result from increased global temperatures.

There is also the relationship of increasing ocean temperatures to the flow of the Gulf Stream - an episode of Future Focus entitled "The Gulf Stream and the Next Ice Age" looked at the possibility that the Gulf Stream may be affected by rising ocean temperatures (melting the fresh water ice around the polar cap and affecting salinity). The change in the salinity would then affect the flow of the Gulf Stream and potentially cause it to stop. This would then reduce the flow of warm water around Europe and cause a drop in temperatures (hence the possibility of an ice age). For those who have heard of the movie The Day After Tomorrow, it is based upon this concept (though a fair amount of dramatic licence has been taken in it).
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