More extreme hurricanes due?

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    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 ‘to get stronger’


    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, Stormy Weather: Can We Link it to Global Warming?.

      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:

      More than 200,000 people have lost their jobs because of Hurricane Katrina

      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:

      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


        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

        This is global warming, says environmental chief:
        As Hurricane Rita threatens devastation, scientist blames climate change

        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.”

        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 Economist 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).

        The gathering storms: How man is making the wind blow


        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.


        – If indeed such a threat to Taiwan, surely means Hong Kong will face greater impacts from typhoons.

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