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A prominent member of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has resigned after accusing a lead author of injecting his personal opinions into the science of global warming and hurricanes.

The delightfully named Chris Landsea submitted his resignation from the IPCC’s Fourth Assessment Report; Reuters reports here. You can read Landsea’s open letter about his resignation here; the essential question is whether global warming is contributing to an increase in hurricane frequency and intensity. The IPCC’s Third Assessment Report, published in 2001, reported no essential increase in tropical cyclones.

Though it’s difficult to give justice to this complicated subject in a blog entry, Tom Knutson of NOAA has done work suggesting that, while it’s difficult to tell if hurricane numbers will be greater or fewer in the future, “the hurricanes that do occur near the end of the 21st century are expected to be stronger and have significantly more intense rainfall than under present day climate conditions.”

That’s consistent with what Kevin Trenberth of NCAR, against whom Landsea’s objections are directed, told the radio show Living on Earth in September – though, to be fair, Landsea’s differences appear to come from the transcript of a Harvard press conference that had come to the conclusion that global warming was impacting hurricane activity today.

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