As the world watched New Orleans' devastating descent into squalor last week, questions about connections between global warming and hurricanes reemerged. A few politicians and activists leapt to offer their views, most of which were unmeritorious. So what does the science say? Swifter, higher, stronger? Investigations of the climatology of tropical cyclones (the generic name for the storms we call tropical storms or hurricanes in the Western Hemisphere) must be broken into at least two separate categories. The first involves storm formation: Is the number of storms changing with time? On a related note, do the regions of tropical cyclone …
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Robert Korty is a postdoctoral scientist at the Joint Program on the Science and Policy of Global Change at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He holds a Ph.D. in climate physics and chemistry from MIT, and researches hurricane-ocean interactions.