Global warming behind record 2005 storms-US expert
Tue Apr 25, 2006 1:39 AM BST
By Thom Akeman
MONTEREY, California (Reuters) - A leading U.S. government storm
researcher said on Monday that the record hurricane season last year
can be attributed to global warming.
"The hurricanes we are seeing are indeed a direct result of climate
change and it's no longer something we'll see in the future, it's
happening now," said Greg Holland, a division director at the
National Center for Atmospheric Research in Boulder, Colorado.
Holland told a packed hall at the American Meteorological Society's
27th Conference on Hurricanes and Tropical Meteorology in Monterey,
California that the wind and warmer water conditions that fuel storms
that form in the Caribbean are "increasingly due to greenhouse gases.
There seems to be no other conclusion you can logically draw."
His conclusion will be debated throughout the week-long conference,
as other researchers present opposing papers that say changing wind
and temperature conditions in the tropics are due to natural events,
not the accumulation of carbon dioxide emissions clouding the Earth.
Many of the experts gathered in the coastal city of Monterey are
federal employees working under a Bush administration that contends
global warming is an unproven theory.
Holland, director of the Mesoscale and Microscale Meteorology
Division of the federal research center, said tropical storm
anomalies in the 1940s and 1950s can be explained by natural
But he said carbon dioxide started changing traceable patterns in the
1970s and by the early 1990s, the atmospheric results were affecting
the storm numbers and intensities.
"What we're seeing right now in global climate temperature is a
signature of climate change," said Holland, a native of
Australia. "The large bulk of the scientific community say what we
are seeing now is linked directly to greenhouse gases."
Most major hurricanes develop from African easterly waves and they
have been increasing for a decade, Holland said. When they reach the
warm water in the tropics, cyclones can form. If the water is warmer
than usual, the cyclones can be more intense than usual and are more
likely to reach the United States, he said.
Hurricane Katrina, which tore onto the Louisiana and Mississippi
coasts on August 29, was the deadliest hurricane in 77 years and the
costliest ever, with property damages estimated at $75 billion.
This year, the weather service's Tropical Prediction Center expects
more hurricanes than usual, but not as many as last year's record.
"It doesn't look as active as 2005, but I'm not sure we'll ever see
another year like 2005," said Eric Blake, one of the center's
hurricane specialists, adding that 2006 may be more like the
hurricane season of 2004.