London (July 29, 2007)- A study published in the Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society of London blames global warming for an increase in tropical storms. “We’re seeing a quite substantial increase in hurricanes over the last century, very closely related to increases in sea-surface temperatures in the tropical Atlantic Ocean,” said study author Greg Holland of the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) in Colorado.
Holland worked with hurricane researcher Peter Webster of the Georgia Institute of Technology to evaluate records from 1855 to 2005. The scientists found that average hurricane numbers jumped sharply during the 20th century, from 3.5 per year in the first 30 years to 8.4 in the earliest years of the 21st century. “Approximately 60 percent, and possibly even 70 percent of what we are seeing in the last decade can be attributed directly to greenhouse warming,” Holland said.
Not all scientists agree with the researcher’s conclusions. Some claim that improvements in tracking technology, not global warming, are responsible for the observed increase. Chris Landsea, science and operations officer at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s National Hurricane Center, said the work is “sloppy science that neglects the fact that better monitoring by satellites allows us to observe storms and hurricanes that were simply missed earlier. The doubling in the number of storms and hurricanes in 100 years that they found in their paper is just an artifact of technology, not climate change.”