Monday, November 27, 2006

An Inconvenient Truth

Al Gore et al predicted that 2006 would be a disastrous year for hurricanes- 15 named storms, 9 or 10 being hurricane strength, 3 or 4 or those being major. There is an extensive article from last May here . These predictions had major economic impact, sending gasoline prices over $3.00/gallon as energy experts expected damage to the refining and distributions systems, which were still recovering from Katrina. The Inconvenient Truth? Number of named storms: 9. Number of category 4 or 5: 0. Number of storms formed in the month of October: 0- for the first time in years.

It’s interesting to peruse the NOAA hurricane statistics ; they paint quite a different picture than Al Gore does. You’d scarcely think from the former Vice President’s diatribes that the rate of major hurricane formation was 50% higher in the first half of the century than in the second half, but this chart shows it clearly: number of major storms, 1900-1950: 42; number of major storms 1950-2000: 28. How can this be? After all, there been a major increase in the number and intensity of hurricanes since the 1970s- the same time frame in which temperature increases accelerated- open and shut case, right?

Not exactly. Why is it that the all the figures are based on the period from 1970-1980, rather than any other recent decade? By pure coincidence- surely no one from the Global Warming crowd would try to massage the figures- the decade of the 70s had the lowest hurricane production, both in total number and in number of majors (see the above chart), in a century; returning to normality would be a dramatic increase. Ok, but what about those temperature increases? Warm water fuels hurricanes, so obviously higher temperatures make for more violent hurricanes, right? True enough, according to Mr. Landsea of the National Hurricane Center. From the first article referenced above: “"Models show a 2- to 4-degree temperature increase by the end of the 21st century, and hurricanes will get about 4 percent stronger for every 2-degree increase," he said, citing Princeton's Geophysical Fluid Dynamic Laboratory and Tom Knutson for the research in this area. In other words, the 1-degree water temperature increase off the coast of Africa could fuel a Category 3 hurricane at landfall, like Katrina, with 130-mph winds, to increase by about 2 percent. Two or three miles per hour of Katrina's winds could have been the result of global warming, Mr. Landsea said.”

Let me make a prediction of my own, one that will be proven or disproven within a just a few years: Given that the 95-0 Senate vote against the Kyoto accords during the Clinton administration showed that the Democratic party was no more interested in it than the Republicans, if the next President of the US is a Democrat, Global Warming stories will drop right off the radar screen.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Nice writeup. I'm a meteorologist and generally agree with your assessments. I encourage people who worship Al Gore's movie to also read some of what the scientific skeptics of global warming are saying. It's nice to get more than one point of view, especially when Gore is a politician and not a scientist.