Just Add Warm Water

Apropos of recent discourse regarding the role of global warming and higher ocean temperatures in making recent hurricanes more destructive, a correspondent points to news of the recent publication of a paper in Nature (it’s a PDF file) that discusses this prospect. To cut to the chase, MIT scientist Kerry A. Emanuel says that though there’s little evidence that hurricanes are increasing in number due to the observed 0.5 degree C. rise in tropical ocean temperatures over the past few decades, a study of the power dissipated by tropical cyclones shows the storms are become more powerful and longer lasting and thus potentially far more destructive than before.

There’s math in the paper, which means it’s all a bunch of symbols and Greek letters to me. But Emanuel, who’s been doing advanced meteorological research since the ’70s, has put together something of a layperson’s resource explaining his work, “Anthropogenic Effects on Tropical Cyclone Activity” (anthropogenic means something you helped cause by driving down to the 7-Eleven instead of walking). The page includes a long essay I haven’t read yet, though I’m encouraged by the apparent lack of equations; but I did spot a genuine Great New Word there: paleotempestology. Emanuel’s credited (by one source) with coining it.

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2 Replies to “Just Add Warm Water”

  1. I just saw him drive by in a big black Escalade towing a 28 foot speed boat and the name on the boat went, “SS Eating Fossils By The Ton.”
    Seriously, in the debate over global warming, as with the ethanol debate (which, I guess, is part of the same), these studies are coming out right and left. But, I have drawn the conclusion that neither side can be trusted. Although, I am tending towards the side that says global warming will be our doom.

  2. Yes, I’m sure another study will come soon that shows no relation between hurricane strength and sea surface temps.
    This blog comment brought to you by your friends at Royal Dutch Shell TexArco.

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