Global Warming & Hurricanes

Reported by: Associated Press

A new federal study that clashes with other research says that global warming could reduce how many hurricanes hit the United States.

The new study is the latest in a contentious scientific debate over how man-made global warming may affect the intensity and number of hurricanes.

In it, researchers link warming waters, especially in the Indian and Pacific oceans, to increased vertical wind shear in the Atlantic Ocean near the United States.

Wind shear -- a change in wind speed or direction -- makes it hard for hurricanes to form, strengthen and stay alive. So, according to researchers at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's Miami Lab and the University of Miami, that means "global warming may decrease the likelihood of hurricanes making landfall in the United States."

The study's author, Chunzai Wang, says he based his study on observations instead of computer models and records of landfall hurricanes through more than 100 years. The study will be published today (Wednesday) in Geophysical Research Letters.

Critics say Wang's study is based on poor data that was rejected by scientists on the Nobel Prize-winning Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. They said that at times only one in 10 North Atlantic hurricanes hit the U.S. coast and the data reflect only a small percentage of storms around the globe.