Reported by: Steve Weagle
Producer: Tom Kay
Photographer: Bob Leak
Since we were hit with the first of a series of hurricanes in 2004, many in our area become anxious when the storm season rolls in.
It doesn't help that some forecasters say changes in climate conditions will bring more hurricanes; although NewsChannel 5 found out it may not be as bad as expected.
Global warming is being blamed for melting icebergs, rising sea levels and adversely affecting the wildlife in the Polar Regions. And there's a fear it could hurt us by creating more hurricanes that would be more than the six significant hurricanes that hit Florida in three years.
“The strongest will get a little stronger and the number may increase some and the strongest will get a little stronger,” Hugh Willoughby a hurricane researcher.
Willoughby’s view of how hurricanes are going to respond to global warming is typical, but now there's a growing school of thought that global warming will actually sheer some of these hurricanes.
At the University of Miami's School of Marine and Atmospheric Sciences where he's a professor, Brian Soden told NewsChannel 5 that global warming could rip apart some hurricanes.
“One of the things we found in the model projections of climate change over the next century is they do suggest an increase in the crosswinds in the atlantic and we call it wind shear,” says Soden.
Many scientists agree that the warmer temperatures over the Atlantic Ocean will warm the water and that will provide fuel for the hurricanes. But the models by Soden and some other scientists have found global warming creates another effect.
Soden says, "What our research has shown is that warming in the Atlantic sure it does increase the hurricane activity in the Atlantic Ocean, but warming in these other basins, the Pacific and Indian Oceans that actually acts to stabilize the atmosphere and decrease hurricane activity in the Atlantic. So you have these two competing effects warming in the Atlantic and increasing the intensity and number of storms and warming in these remote basins which actually stabilize the atmosphere over the Atlantic."
Q: So what will happen when the two forces collide?
A: The net result from the models and theory is global warming should lead to very little changes of hurricane activity in the Atlantic.
While Soden and some researchers believe we won't see an increase in hurricane activity because of global warming, everyone agrees that all it takes is one hurricane to be deadly.
Copyright 2008 The E.W. Scripps Co. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.
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