Both Sides: Is Climate Change Causing More Hurricanes?
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Both Sides articles give you the opposing viewpoints on the most important issues of today.
This week, Florida was devastated by hurricane Michael. The category 4 storm brought winds over 155 miles per hour and huge storm surges crashing onto the Florida panhandle. It seems as though hurricanes are increasing in both frequency and intensity. With the second major storm in less than a months time, some believe climate change is leading to an increase in natural disasters – others disagree.
Both Sides: Is climate change causing more frequent and more intense hurricanes?
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In the wake of yet another hurricane scientists are warning the public that things may get worse as a result of the changing climate. Kerry Emanuel, a scientist at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) has developed a theory that argues that the difference in temperature between the ocean and upper atmosphere determines how intense a storm is. The larger the difference in temperature, the more energy is released into the storm, and the more intense the storm becomes.
Over the last 100 years, the average surface temperature of the oceans has risen 1.6°F. This means the difference in temperature between the ocean and upper atmosphere has also increased. As a result, scientists anticipate storms to intensify as the climate continues to warm. Most scientists seem to agree that climate change will increase the intensity of hurricanes in years to come. For more information check out this article.
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While it has become increasingly settled that the climate is indeed changing, despite some theories to the contrary, it is not entirely accepted science that the change in climate will lead to more frequent hurricanes or that it is responsible for what seems to be a recent increase in the frequency and intensity of storms.
In December 2017, a BBC article looked at the history of recorded hurricanes. The article was written after hurricanes Harvey, Irma, and Maria wrecked havoc. When looking at the data from storms since data has been available, there is not a clear demonstrable uptick in storm frequency or intensity in recent years.
Oceans are warmer then they have been, however, ocean temperature is not the only factor that affects hurricane formation. For example, strong winds disrupt hurricane formation. So in El Nino years, when wind patterns are stronger in the Atlantic, hurricanes tend to be less aggressive. For more information about how current hurricane patterns compare to historical storms read the BBC article.