Hurricanes and Global Warming

I found this interesting read here:

Science Settled: New Report- Hurricanes, Global Warming Not Linked

and was more than a tiny bit skeptical with the whole “Science Settled” bit (largely because little is permanently settled in science and this subject is so politicized). After reading it I decided to read the work it is based on here:

Hurricanes and Global Warming

I strongly urge anyone with any interest in the topic of global warming (for, against or neutral (are there any that are neutral?)) to read the entire article. It isn’t a formal paper, but it is very documented and it is by a prominent climate scientists who has published a lot of peer reviewed data, so the guy clearly isn’t a fruit cake. He is staying clearly within his bailiwick and focusing entirely on hurricanes and their changes due to global warming and starts off by agreeing that global temps are rising and humans are likely responsible for a significant portion of the rise (he figures a quarter to possibly as much as half). So, with that as background (again, I urge you to read the whole thing, parts are quite amusing), here are two sets of images I would like to post for consideration (I copied the images to my web site, so if any changes are made on the originals they won’t be reflected here). The first set show the cost associated with hurricanes in the US. The image at the top is the actual cost to the US due to hurricanes, the bottom adjusted for the change in population and the amount of ‘things’ that people now own.

Non-normalized cost of hurricanes
Normalized cost of hurricanes

The second set I want to show is the number of hurricanes and/or tropical storms posited to be formed over time. The top one is the commonly accepted version based on the assumption (which the author calls into question quite convincingly) that the number of missed storms in the past (i.e., not observed because we lacked to tools/eyeballs to observe them) is insignificant and thus isn’t distorting the results and the bottom one is after adjusting based on the author’s (eminently reasonable in my mind) adjustment for almost certainly missed storms in the past.

Non-normalized frequency of storms
Normalized frequency of storms

If you consider the author as someone who is likely to be much more correct about assumptions, past trends, etc., it is very easy to agree with his conclusions that the cost/frequency/duration of hurricanes as the global temps rise another 4-6 degrees is not likely to be of any significance:

My interpretation of the climate change research suggests the following – assuming that there is a significant 2-3°C (4-6°F) global warming due to business-as-usual emissions (which is not a guarantee):

Overall Tropical Storm and Hurricane Changes Due to Global Warming by 2100

  • Frequency: Numbers may see a moderate decrease (~25%) (emphasis added)
  • Wind (Intensity): Small increase (~3% stronger)
  • Storm Surge: Small increase (~3% higher) produced by the hurricane (but also must add on additional amount from overall sea level rise)
  • Rainfall: Moderate increase per cyclone (~10% within ~325 km [200 mi]), but reduced overall numbers may offset increase per cyclone
  • Genesis Location/Track: Somewhat uncertain, but no indications of large changes

These overall changes that may occur are relatively tiny and are several decades away, in my opinion. These conclusions are similar, though slightly smaller, than those indicated by a review panel of the topic of hurricanes and global warming that was recently published in Nature Geophysics in which I participated.

Why can’t these sorts of discussions be part of the mainstream?

Author: Tfoui

He who spews forth data that could be construed as information...