Don't miss

Replay


LATEST SHOWS

THE DEBATE

Showdown in Gambia: Foreign troops at border as Jammeh refuses to go (part 1)

Read more

THE DEBATE

Showdown in Gambia: Senegalese troops enter Country as Jammeh refuses to go (part 2)

Read more

PEOPLE & PROFIT

Davos 2017: Global leaders try to understand populist surge

Read more

BUSINESS DAILY

DAVOS 2017: What next for the global healthcare industry?

Read more

FOCUS

New initiative provides free services to homeless in Paris

Read more

THE INTERVIEW

Moving US embassy to Jerusalem would be 'a terrible mistake'

Read more

ENCORE!

Hisham Matar's memoir 'The Return' seeks answers in post-Gaddafi Libya

Read more

FRENCH CONNECTIONS

Acquired tastes: The 'disgusting' French delicacies many foreigners won't eat

Read more

INSIDE THE AMERICAS

Brazil: Docu-drama spotlights harsh reality of prison life

Read more

Warmer oceans linked to stronger storms

Latest update : 2008-09-03

The strongest tropical cyclones are becoming even stronger as global warming make the world's oceans warmer, a climate study released by the London weekly Nature confirmed.

 

As the world's oceans get warmer, the strongest tropical storms get stronger, climate scientists reported on Wednesday as the remnants of Hurricane Gustav spun out over the central United States.

 

"If the seas continue to warm, we can expect to see stronger storms in the future," James Elsner of Florida State University said.

 

"As far as this year goes, as a season, we did see the oceans warm and I think there's some reason to believe that that's the reason we're seeing the amount of activity we are."

 

Gustav made landfall on Monday just west of New Orleans; three more storms churned toward the U.S. mainland on Wednesday.

 

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration predicts 12 to 16 tropical storms between June 1 and Nov. 30 this year, with six to nine hurricanes and two to five major hurricanes.

 

Many climate scientists have linked stronger storms to rising sea surface temperatures in the North Atlantic and elsewhere, under the so-called heat engine theory: because warm tropical cyclones feed on warm water, the warmer the water, the more intense the storm.

 

U.S. researchers looked at 26 years of satellite data, from 1981 to 2006, and determined that the strongest storms got stronger as a result of increasing ocean warmth.

 

"It's almost like a survival-of-the-fittest argument," said Elsner, whose study is published in the journal Nature. Overall, tropical waters that breed cyclones have warmed by about 0.6 degrees F (0.33 degree C) since 1981.

 

The heat engine theory suggests all storms should strengthen as the ocean's surface gets hotter, but in reality, few tropical cyclones achieve their full maximum potential intensity.

 

A cyclone's intensity can be cut by other factors, such as where they form, how close they are to land, El Nino patterns and solar activity, the researchers said.

 

Strong storms seem able to overcome these factors and gather more fuel from warming waters, Elsner said.

 

The study's findings are in line with projections made last year by the U.N.'s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, which said there may be more intense storms due to global warming.

 

The panel said "more likely than not" that a trend of intense tropical cyclones and hurricanes was caused by human activity.

 

Elsner's study made no reference to any human cause for rising temperatures in the world's oceans.

Date created : 2008-09-03

COMMENT(S)