As the climate debate keeps getting hotter, experts discuss if global warming is fueling hurricanes and tropical storms. Chris Mooney‘s latest book “Storm World” questions the relation between climate change and catastrophic hurricanes and typhoons.

clipped from
More than 28 tropical storms and hurricanes, including Katrina, were spawned in the Atlantic Ocean in 2005. In fact, the season was so extreme that it instigated an ongoing debate: Has climate change made hurricanes fiercer and more frequent? As Chris Mooney relates in Storm World: Hurricanes, Politics, and the Battle over Global Warming (Harcourt, 2007), proponents of both sides of the dispute have had a field day with this question. Yet the danger of extrapolating from a single catastrophic season became clear in 2006, an unusually quiet year for Atlantic hurricanes. Just 10 storms brewed, only two of which became major hurricanes. So what does this mixed record say about global warming?

Image description

The basic scenario goes as follows: Hurricanes—circular storms spinning around a region of low atmospheric pressure—are powered by energy released by spiraling surface winds that draw heat from the ocean. Warmer seas should provide more energy and make hurricanes stronger.

  blog it