Human induced climate change, rather than naturally occurring ocean cycles, may be responsible for the recent increases in frequency and strength of North Atlantic hurricanes, according to Penn State and Massachusetts Institute of Technology researchers.
"Anthropogenic factors are likely responsible for long-term trends in tropical Atlantic warmth and tropical cyclone activity," the researchers report in an upcoming issue of the American Geophysical Societys EOS.
Michael E. Mann, associate professor of meteorology and geosciences, Penn State, and Kerry A. Emanuel, professor of atmospheric sciences, MIT, looked at the record of global sea surface temperatures, hurricane frequency, aerosol impacts and the so-called Atlantic Multidecadal Oscillation (AMO) Ð an ocean cycle similar, but weaker and less frequent than the El Nino/La Nina cycle. Although others have suggested that the AMO, a cycle of from 50 to 70 years, is the significant contributing factor to the increase in number and strength of hurricanes, their statistical analysis and modeling indicate that it is only the tropical Atlantic sea surface temperature that is responsible, tempered by the cooling effects of some lower atmospheric pollutants.
Vicki Fong | EurekAlert!
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