Study links more destructive hurricanes to global warming

Controversy about the connection between severe storms and climate change seems to follow inevitably on the heels of hurricane season. This year is no different: A report this week in the journal Nature will argue that global warming is a major cause of the rise in cumulative hurricane power since 1970. MIT climatologist Kerry Emanuel found that in the past three decades, Atlantic-basin hurricanes have grown more than twice as powerful, with a notably sharp upswing since 1995. The researcher links the formation of intensified storms to an increase in average ocean-surface temperature of nearly one degree Fahrenheit during the same period — due in part to climate change. If coastal populations continue to increase, Emanuel writes, it is likely to mean “a substantial increase in hurricane-related losses in the 21st century.” Emanuel’s is the first study to make a statistical link between global warming and stronger Atlantic storms.