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MARIN COUNTY'S NEWS MONTHLY - FREE PRESS
(415)868-1600 - (415)868-0502(fax) - P.O. Box 31, Bolinas, CA, 94924

November, 2005

Hurricanes And Global Warming

Warm ocean waters are a hurricane's engine. For a hurricane to occur, ocean temperatures must be a minimum of 80 degrees F.
"It's impossible to know to what extent a single storm is linked to global warming," says Environmental Defense chief scientist Bill Chameides. "But regardless, it is a harbinger of what we will likely experience in the coming years. If we don't curb our global warming pollution, it's just going to get worse."

Warm water fuels hurricanes
Why? Warm ocean waters are a hurricane's engine. In fact, for a hurricane to occur, ocean temperatures must be a minimum of 80 degrees F. That's why hurricane season occurs during the warmest months of the year (June to November). We now know from ocean measurements that sea surface temperatures have been heating up for at least the last 50 years or so because of global warming. And warmer oceans are predicted to cause more brutal hurricanes.
Studies suggest global warming is making hurricanes stronger Two recent studies indicate that the effects of global warming on hurricanes are already happening. Meteorologist Kerry Emanuel of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology studied tropical storm and ocean temperature data and discovered that the destructive potential of tropical storms in the North Atlantic and Pacific has doubled over the past 30 years. At the Georgia Institute of Technology, researcher Peter Webster and colleagues found a sharp increase in the number of Category 4 and 5 hurricanes over the past 35 years. Emanuel and Webster's findings reinforce each other and suggest a strong link between global warming and more intense hurricanes.

Find out more
"Hurricanes and Global Warming: Lessons from Katrina" - Environmental Defense's chief scientist Bill Chameides looks at this season's destructive hurricanes from a scientific vantage point, laying out what we know and what we should do to ensure a better protected future
"Is Katrina a Harbinger of Still More Powerful Hurricanes?" - Article, Science magazine, 9/16/05 - Mounting evidence suggests that hurricanes are intensifying, and scientists are starting to see a greenhouse warming link
"Time to Connect the Dots" Editorial, The New York Times, 9/28/05 - It is not possible to link any one hurricane to global warming, but since warm waters drive hurricane strength, the global warming factor is getting impossible to ignore



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