New study predicts fewer but stronger hurricanes

WASHINGTON (AP) - Top researchers now agree that the world is likely to get stronger but fewer hurricanes in the future because of global warming, seeming to settle a scientific debate on the subject.

But they say there's not enough evidence yet to tell whether that effect has already begun.

Since just before Hurricane Katrina hit Louisiana and Mississippi in 2005, dueling scientific papers have clashed about whether global warming is worsening hurricanes and will do so in the future. The new study seems to split the difference.

A special World Meteorological Organization panel of 10 experts in both hurricanes and climate change came up with a consensus that was published online today in the journal Nature Geoscience.

The study offers projections for tropical cyclones worldwide by the end of this century. Some experts said the bad news outweighs the good.

Overall strength of storms as measured in wind speed would rise by 2 to 11 percent, but there would be between 6 and 34 percent fewer storms. Essentially, there would be fewer weak and moderate storms and more of the big damaging ones. The larger storms also are projected to be stronger due to warming.

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