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A View from David Appell

Hurricane Warming

This hurricane approaching Florida raises a question that is no doubt crossing many a climatologist’s mind today (and maybe some Floridians’): is the one-two punch of Hurricanes Charley and Frances a product of global warming? The right way to describe…

  • September 3, 2004

This hurricane approaching Florida raises a question that is no doubt crossing many a climatologist’s mind today (and maybe some Floridians’): is the one-two punch of Hurricanes Charley and Frances a product of global warming? The right way to describe these kind of events seems to be that they “are consistent with” the consequences of global climate change, because no storm outside of The Day After Tomorrow can definitely be ascribed to a warmer world. It’s a peculiar phrase, but the best scientists are likely to ever be able to do. Strong storms happen all the time, and there have even been back-to-back storms in Florida before: The last time was in 1950, when Hurricanes Easy and King struck the state.

In its 2001 report on climate change, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) found little to no evidence of stronger
northern Atlantic storm activity. And unlike the situation with tornadoes, where there have been reports of increases but which some blame on better monitoring, historical hurricane records are pretty good-no one misses a storm as huge as a hurricane.

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