WRAL WeatherCenter Blog

Latest NOAA study on hurricanes and climate change gives mixed results

Posted May 20, 2008

Mixed signals?  Perhaps.

Depending on who's talking -- and, quite possibly, their take on climate change and global warming -- the latest study by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) is comfirmation of either their worst fears or a government conspiracy.

In a nutshell, researchers at NOAA's Global Fluid Dynamics Lab ran a number of computer model simulations, and the results were mixed.  The total number of hurricanes and the number actually making landfall across the United States will drop, the models say.  However, their study concludes that the storms that do form will have the potential to be stronger and produce even more rainfall than the storms we have today.

Naturally, the study is causing some commotion, even within the meteorological community.  Some folks say these computer models don't do a good job with tropical storms and hurricanes, while others disagree entirely with the study's conclusion.

So, the study has a little something for everyone -- including the promise that more research is necessary.  Says Dr. Tom Knutson, lead investigator for the study: "We do not regard this study as the last word on this topic." 

That may be the only signal that is loud and clear.

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  • cadetsfan May 21, 2008

    This is not surprising. The meteorologist and climatologist communities have never been as unified on this as the media and other hypers have made it sound -- two of the prominent hurricane specialists (Gray and Emmanuel) disagree strongly.