Hurricanes and global warming: The debate over their connection continues.
Hurricanes and global warming: The debate over their connection continues.Courtesy NASA

In 2005, Dr. Kerry Emmanuel, a climate scientist at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, published a paper claiming there was a link between rising global temperatures and increases in hurricane strength.

This year, Dr. Emmanuel has published another paper in which he reconsiders the evidence. He found that the models used to predict hurricane activity were not matching up with what was happening in the real world. The link between hurricanes and global warming may not be as strong as originally suspected, or may not exist at all.

This is precisely how science is supposed to work – examining evidence, coming up with theories to explain the evidence, testing those theories, and adjusting the theories if necessary.

In another three years, Emmanual may write another paper showing that he was right the first time. Or that the whole hurricane-warming link is a dead end. Or perhaps some other conclusion. But the important thing is to keep looking, and to report honestly what you find.

As economist John Keynes famously said, “When the facts change, I change my mind.” A good approach to any debate.

Your Comments, Thoughts, Questions, Ideas

Amanda M's picture
Amanda M says:

Why would global warming have somthing to do with a hurricane? Do you think that Hurricane Katrina was the cause of global warming? is it going to happen again any time soon

posted on Thu, 04/17/2008 - 9:36am
Gene's picture
Gene says:

Dr. Emmanuel's theory was that global warming was heating the ocean. Heat is a form of energy, and his early study concluded that this energy was making hurricanes, like Katrina, more powerful. After studying the topic further, he now says the connection is weaker than he originally thought, and may not exist at all.

Hurricanes do not cause global warming.

Hurricanes happen every year, though it is difficult to predict in advance how many there will be, or how strong.

posted on Fri, 04/18/2008 - 7:34pm
tiffany_88's picture
tiffany_88 says:

I'm scared because the gobal warming increase day to day and the enviroment fell the consequences in the humans.

posted on Thu, 04/17/2008 - 9:43am
Gene's picture
Gene says:

Actually, global temperatures peaked in 1998 and have fallen slightly or held steady since.

posted on Fri, 04/18/2008 - 7:34pm
Looney_Tooney's picture
Looney_Tooney says:

I Lik Science But Im Whack At It...

U Kno Wat Im Sayin!!!

posted on Thu, 04/17/2008 - 9:59am
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

If we could just get some globol warming, it would not be so cold in Minnesota!

posted on Fri, 04/18/2008 - 9:43pm
Smart McSmart Face's picture
Smart McSmart Face says:

global warming is very very very bad for the atmosphere so booooooooooooo!

posted on Sat, 04/19/2008 - 9:37am
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

i think some stuff in science is cool but some other stuff i find boring

posted on Sat, 04/19/2008 - 3:32pm
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

I am not sure if hurricanes are connected somehow with global warming, but what I have notice is that our climate is changing. We are using more natural resources everyday, and we are not doing anything to reverse its side effects. Mother earth is triying to tell us something, but we are not listening until is too late. Our bpdies are changing too. Our organs are more sensitive to weather changes, and our bodies react on a weak way. Our immune systems are not as samrt as they use to be 50 years ago.

posted on Sat, 04/19/2008 - 3:33pm
Gene's picture
Gene says:

I'm not sure what you mean by "our organs are more sensitive to weather changes." It is true that certain immunological conditions, like asthma and allergies, have become more common. But it has nothing to do with global warming. Rather, scientists speculate that it's a combination of better diagnosis (many cases went unreported in the past) and cleaner living. Our homes and cities are much cleaner than they used to be, so we don't encounter as many germs as people did in decades past. Which means our immune systems never develop a tolerance for some microbes, leading to the weak or inappropriate responses.

posted on Fri, 04/25/2008 - 11:23am

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