New study ties hurricane increase in Atlantic to climate change

A new study has linked rising hurricane and tropical storm activity in the Atlantic Ocean to climate change. Noting that the average number of hurricanes and tropical storms in the Atlantic Ocean has more than doubled in the last century from an average of six a year between 1905 and 1930 to an average of 15 between 1995 and 2005, the study ties the increase to warming sea surface temperatures since the early 20th century. Critics of the new study, including the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, say natural variability in storm frequency as well as much more sophisticated technology to detect storms can account for the observed increase, but the study authors disagree. They say natural variability has contributed less than 50 percent of the actual increase in storm frequency. “Approximately 60 percent, and possibly even 70 percent of what we are seeing in the last decade can be attributed directly to greenhouse warming,” said study coauthor Greg Holland from the National Center for Atmospheric Research in Boulder, Colo.