More extreme hurricanes due?

The Guardian recently reported predictions that hurricanes - and typhoons - could become more extreme. This follows record high sea surface temperatures; also "water vapour over the global oceans increased by 5% and that probably relates to about a 5% increase in intensity and probably a 5% increase in heavy rainfalls. That relates directly to the flooding statistics." - hmm, must wonder if this is linked to the ongoing downpours in s China including Hong Kong at present. Hurricanes">,12374,1508555,00.html]Hu... 'to get stronger'
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Very soon after I posted the above, the Caribbean is hit by Dennis (the Menace) - the strongest hurricane so early in the hurricane season, and the earliest Category 4 hurricane recorded.
(It's currently just moving back over the sea after crossing Cuba; forecast to regain major hurricane status.)

This just after George Bush helped block G8 from releasing anything saying they'd take action about global warming. (Bush at least admitted global warming's a problem - but fudged over doing anything, as that would affect American jobs. Hmmm... weather shifting to extremes, inc with hurricanes, couldn't have even greater adverse impact on the US? Incuding if and when other countries suffer.)

No sooner has Dennis dashed across land and into oblivion (without massive damage) than Hurricane Emily is bearing west across the Caribbean. Emily's a record 5th tropical storm for this early in the hurricane season; already to Category 4 (of 5). Meanwhile, Typhoon Haitang is bearing down on Taiwan. It too ranks at Category 4, and could strengthen to Cat 5 before reaching Taiwan. As I write, there's a satellite photo showing very distinct, large eye.

Not being evily twisted but HK needs a super Category 5 Typhoon - right now. The seawater is in such a poor condition, below the thermocline at 7m, the temp is about as cold in winter! Fish have all vanished.
We need some serious oceanic mixing to balance out these coastal waters.
And so far this year we have had nada.

A new study links global warming to more ferocious hurricanes Storms' fury tied to environment

Following the above study, comes Katrina - and E Magazine has a commentary, [url=]Stormy Weather: Can We Link it to Global Warming?[/url].

For some time now, those opposed to doing much about global warming (Bush administration, say) have argued it would cost too much, such as in US jobs.
How does the potential balance sheet look now? (Katrina may or may not have been a child of global warming - but is the sort of weather phenomenon that's forecast as temperatures rise, more energy circulates through the atmosphere.)

commentary by former Cllinton adviser raps Bush administration for cutting New Orleans flood control budget by 44%; also for inaction re global warming.

"No One Can Say they Didn't See it Coming"

Bush has argued that US shouldn't do much about global warming, as would put US jobs at risk.
I've long believed this was false, short term thinking; that storms etc from warming would cause plenty of trouble for US economy and jobs.
Just seen news report includes:
[quote]More than 200,000 people have lost their jobs because of Hurricane Katrina[/quote]
Yes, Katrina not certainly a partial product of warming (those [unusually] warm/hot Gulf waters leading to rapid strengthening) - but short of thing to be expected as result of global warming. Other impacts not always so headlines grabbing, but also serious and unpleasant.
And now, Rita causing massive trouble - inc for oil industry, which is perhaps appropriate. Oh for a tornado from Rita swirling into Bush's summer home.

Just in from Dr Glen Barry, of EcoEarth:

[quote]How Many Times Must a Hurricane Come Ashore, Before You Call it Global Warming?
The Answer My Friend Is Blowing in Rita's Wind, The Answer Depends Upon
You and Me

Earth Meanders by Dr. Glen Barry
September 23, 2005

How many monster hurricanes does it take before governments and
individuals, as a matter of prudence, start taking precautions in response
to climate change? This essay's title is to be sung to the tune of Bob
Dylan's "Blowing in the Wind". As was the case then, the issue of climate
change is ripe for protest and social change. Anyone who spends time
outdoors and is in touch with nature and ecology can tell the climate is
changing dramatically.

Humanity must embark now upon a 60% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions
to be achieved by the year 2050. This is the best scientific estimate of
emission reductions necessary to stabilize the Earth's climatic system in
a condition largely similar to the present, while avoiding the most
egregious catastrophic impacts of abrupt climate change. Individuals must
start changing their lifestyles and governments their policies in order to
limit and adapt to increasingly evident climate change.

As the second human intensified hurricane in a matter of weeks looms over
America's gulf coast, it is readily apparent that humanity is witnessing
climate change of their own making. Melting glaciers and permafrost,
rising seas, deadly heatwaves and scorching droughts apparently were not
enough. More fundamentally, these dual hurricanes and other
demonstrations of climate change herald the beginning of a more systematic
collapse of key regional and global ecosystems and their processes as the
result of humans' overbearing presence upon the Earth.

Those that say these hurricanes are the result of natural variability
point to no scientific studies. All they have to offer is their opinion,
clouded by an inability to accept that humans are capable of transforming
the Earth. On the other hand, there are decades of studies, modeling and
science that predicted stronger hurricanes as a result of global warming.
Frankly, when media ask whether the hurricanes have anything to do with
climate change, I would like more than a shrug and some platitude like "we
are not sure". Media needs to delve more into what we do know, while
indicating where we need to learn more, thus informing the search for

Recently the journal Science published research showing that the number of
Category 4 and 5 hurricanes worldwide has nearly doubled over the past 35
years as global sea surface temperatures increased. Earlier a paper in
Nature revealed that major storms in the Atlantic and Pacific since the
1970s have increased in intensity by about 50 percent. The phenomenon of
warming oceans is well studied, and it is known that in the past 50 years
oceans have on average warmed by one degree Fahrenheit (about 0.5 degrees
Celsius). Indeed, a major study published mid-year in Science by a group
of Scripps Institution of Oceanography scientists found clear evidence of
human-produced warming in the world’s oceans.

The U.S. with four percent of the world's population is responsible for a
quarter of the world's carbon dioxide emissions, and Americans are
laggards in supporting policies to address climate change. As American
citizens are battered by these hurricanes, America has a special
responsibility to determine whether and to what degree these nearly
concurrent catastrophes are human caused. The logical place to start is
investigating further why and how gulf waters are warming.

Katrina and Rita's demonstration of the deadly potential of human
intensified hurricanes needs an urgent response. Their ferocity would
ideally lead to the American government facing up to the threat of climate
change, and acting with strong resolve in response. Whether you accept
the preponderance of climate change evidence or not, the prudent and
responsible thing would be to launch a major scientific investigation
while starting to prepare. What will happen when oceans warm by three or
five degrees Fahrenheit (1.7 - 2.8 degrees Celsius), which is forecasted
by the end of the century? There is no strength in smug, ill-informed

And what if it is proven that human caused climate change has contributed
to these disasters? What then? Will it be life as usual? Or do
Americans in particular have the will to transform themselves? I have
often wondered whether Americans have the strength to fundamentally change
their way of being when they see they must. Somewhat similarly, we have
witnessed Russians adapting to the collapse of empire, and Germany and
Japan rebuilding after disastrous militarism. Can America peacefully
transition to a post-petroleum lifestyle starting now? We shall soon

The primary obstacle remains how to assist people to acknowledge deadly
global warming is happening and begin adjusting their lifestyles
accordingly. Further, a political space must be established that gives
politicians incentives to advocate and implement sufficient responses.
Environmental warnings at this point are more than "I told you so". They
highlight that the impacts of climate change have moved to a new level,
and are still worsening in ways that hurt us all - environmentalists and
non-environmentalists alike.

The necessary changes are significant but not insurmountable. All Earth's
citizens must develop a conservation ethic: less consumption, more living;
fewer things, greater meaning; more experiences, less material hassles.
The age of boundless consumption is over - we must drive, eat, house
ourselves and otherwise live more simply and in harmony with the Earth.
It is difficult to hear truth that goes against your established way of
living. But your survival depends upon acting on the Earth's global warning
system as evident by Rita and Katrina.

Governments are failing their citizens. Leadership in a time of climate
crisis in particular means facing your biases - sifting and winnowing the
evidence to find the truth. Leadership is more than having an opinion.
It requires adapting to new scientific knowledge, doing what must be done
for the people and the Earth, even if it clashes with your rigid
worldview. It is essential that government aggressively and immediately
increase support for emission reductions, energy conservation and
renewable energy development, as a matter of utmost urgency.

Even as we do everything possible to stabilize climate change at levels
where the Earth remains livable, it is time to start preparing for climate
change impacts. And we must do so without shifting toward authoritarian
government. In addition to obvious needs such as increasing financial
support for civilian emergency response services, this will require major
investments in restoration of natural ecosystems, relocating populations
from harms way, and restructuring the economy to sustainable use of
natural capital.

Bottom line: according to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change,
emissions of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases will raise global
average temperatures by up to 5.8 degrees Celsius (10.4 degrees
Fahrenheit) by the end of the century. This will affect not only weather
patterns but also water resources, ecosystems and agriculture. As an
individual, you can develop and trust your own ecological intuition while
being informed by thousands of leading scientists, or your can succumb to
the vitriol of conservative pundits and a handful of oil industry funded
skeptics. Just be prepared to live - if conditions allow - with your
choice. [/quote]

the following article is of interest..........

Global warming 'past the point of no return'
By Steve Connor, Science Editor
16 September 2005

In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, this material is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes.

A record loss of sea ice in the Arctic this summer has convinced scientists that the northern hemisphere may have crossed a critical threshold beyond which the climate may never recover. Scientists fear that the Arctic has now entered an irreversible phase of warming which will accelerate the loss of the polar sea ice that has helped to keep the climate stable for thousands of years.

They believe global warming is melting Arctic ice so rapidly that the region is beginning to absorb more heat from the sun, causing the ice to melt still further and so reinforcing a vicious cycle of melting and heating.

The greatest fear is that the Arctic has reached a "tipping point" beyond which nothing can reverse the continual loss of sea ice and with it the massive land glaciers of Greenland, which will raise sea levels dramatically.

Satellites monitoring the Arctic have found that the extent of the sea ice this August has reached its lowest monthly point on record, dipping an unprecedented 18.2 per cent below the long-term average.

Experts believe that such a loss of Arctic sea ice in summer has not occurred in hundreds and possibly thousands of years. It is the fourth year in a row that the sea ice in August has fallen below the monthly downward trend - a clear sign that melting has accelerated.

Scientists are now preparing to report a record loss of Arctic sea ice for September, when the surface area covered by the ice traditionally reaches its minimum extent at the end of the summer melting period.

Sea ice naturally melts in summer and reforms in winter but for the first time on record this annual rebound did not occur last winter when the ice of the Arctic failed to recover significantly.

Arctic specialists at the US National Snow and Ice Data Centre at Colorado University, who have documented the gradual loss of polar sea ice since 1978, believe that a more dramatic melt began about four years ago.

In September 2002 the sea ice coverage of the Arctic reached its lowest level in recorded history. Such lows have normally been followed the next year by a rebound to more normal levels, but this did not occur in the summers of either 2003 or 2004. This summer has been even worse. The surface area covered by sea ice was at a record monthly minimum for each of the summer months - June, July and now August.

Scientists analysing the latest satellite data for September - the traditional minimum extent for each summer - are preparing to announce a significant shift in the stability of the Arctic sea ice, the northern hemisphere's major "heat sink" that moderates climatic extremes.

"The changes we've seen in the Arctic over the past few decades are nothing short of remarkable," said Mark Serreze, one of the scientists at the Snow and Ice Data Centre who monitor Arctic sea ice.

Scientists at the data centre are bracing themselves for the 2005 annual minimum, which is expected to be reached in mid-September, when another record loss is forecast. A major announcement is scheduled for 20 September. "It looks like we're going to exceed it or be real close one way or the other. It is probably going to be at least as comparable to September 2002," Dr Serreze said.

"This will be four Septembers in a row that we've seen a downward trend. The feeling is we are reaching a tipping point or threshold beyond which sea ice will not recover."

The extent of the sea ice in September is the most valuable indicator of its health. This year's record melt means that more of the long-term ice formed over many winters - so called multi-year ice - has disappeared than at any time in recorded history.

Sea ice floats on the surface of the Arctic Ocean and its neighbouring seas and normally covers an area of some 7 million square kilometres (2.4 million square miles) during September - about the size of Australia. However, in September 2002, this dwindled to about 2 million square miles - 16 per cent below average.

Sea ice data for August closely mirrors that for September and last month's record low - 18.2 per cent below the monthly average - strongly suggests that this September will see the smallest coverage of Arctic sea ice ever recorded.

As more and more sea ice is lost during the summer, greater expanses of open ocean are exposed to the sun which increases the rate at which heat is absorbed in the Arctic region, Dr Serreze said.

Sea ice reflects up to 80 per cent of sunlight hitting it but this "albedo effect" is mostly lost when the sea is uncovered. "We've exposed all this dark ocean to the sun's heat so that the overall heat content increases," he explained.

Current computer models suggest that the Arctic will be entirely ice-free during summer by the year 2070 but some scientists now believe that even this dire prediction may be over-optimistic, said Professor Peter Wadhams, an Arctic ice specialist at Cambridge University.

"When the ice becomes so thin it breaks up mechanically rather than thermodynamically. So these predictions may well be on the over-optimistic side," he said.

As the sea ice melts, and more of the sun's energy is absorbed by the exposed ocean, a positive feedback is created leading to the loss of yet more ice, Professor Wadhams said.

"If anything we may be underestimating the dangers. The computer models may not take into account collaborative positive feedback," he said.

Sea ice keeps a cap on frigid water, keeping it cold and protecting it from heating up. Losing the sea ice of the Arctic is likely to have major repercussions for the climate, he said. "There could be dramatic changes to the climate of the northern region due to the creation of a vast expanse of open water where there was once effectively land," Professor Wadhams said. "You're essentially changing land into ocean and the creation of a huge area of open ocean where there was once land will have a very big impact on other climate parameters," he said.


thanks, jimmi james - scary stuff; we're all in some giant experiment, with far more unpleasantness to come

[url=]This [u]is[/u] global warming, says environmental chief:
As Hurricane Rita threatens devastation, scientist blames climate change[/url]

[quote]The growing violence of storms such as Katrina, which wrecked New Orleans, and Rita, now threatening Texas, is very probably caused by climate change, said Sir John Lawton, chairman of the Royal Commission on Environmental Pollution.
Referring to the arrival of Hurricane Rita he said: "If this makes the climate loonies in the States realise we've got a problem, some good will come out of a truly awful situation."
Asked about characterising them as "loonies", he said: "There are a group of people in various parts of the world ... who simply don't want to accept human activities can change climate and are changing the climate."

"I'd liken them to the people who denied that smoking causes lung cancer."[/quote]

Yes, seems that in US govt there is/was perception that climate change is partly a political issue - and if it doesn't fit your political outlook, it isn't happening or isn't important. (The [i]Economist[/i] seems to adopt such a view, too.)

Another paper out, saying global warming due to human activities is resulting in more powerful storms, including hurricanes (and, therefore, typhoons - which are "hurricanes" in the west Pacific).

[url=]The gathering storms: How man is making the wind blow[/url]

Martin Williams's picture

Global warming is raising the danger from typhoons, Taiwan experts warned Monday, saying the island may be hit in a year or two by a powerful storm like the one which killed more than 700 last August.

Typhoon Morakot dumped a record 3,000 millimetres (120 inches) of rainfall and caused massive mudslides in the south of the island, and the government should be prepared for similar disasters in the future, they said.

"A typhoon as powerful as Morakot is very likely to strike Taiwan in a year or two," said Wang Chung-ho, a research fellow at the Institute of the Earth Sciences at Taiwan's top academic body Academia Sinica.

Global warming raises Taiwan typhoon danger   - If indeed such a threat to Taiwan, surely means Hong Kong will face greater impacts from typhoons.