Posted by: Lawyer Sanders | October 15, 2008

Lawyer Sanders says National Center for Atmospheric Research to study link betwen global warming and increased frequency and intensity of hurricanes in Gulf of Mexico and Caribbean Sea.

The National Center for Atmospheric Research, working with federal agencies and universities as well as the insurance and energy industries, will examine how global warming may affect hurricanes in the next coming decades. The goal of the project is to better inform coastal communities, offshore drilling operations, and other interests that could be affected by changes in the intensity and duration of hurricanes.


Using a supercomputer, the study will use a combination of global climate and regional weather models to look at hurricane activity in unprecedented detail. Researchers are targeting the hurricane-prone Gulf of Mexico and the Caribbean Sea to assess the likely changes, between now and the middle of the century, in the frequency, intensity, and paths of these incredibly powerful storms. 

The new study follows two major reports, by the U.S. Climate Change Science Program (CCSP) and Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), that found evidence of a link between global warming and increased hurricane activity. 

Improved understanding of climate change and hurricanes is an especially high priority for the energy industry, which has a concentration of drilling platforms, refineries, pipelines, and other infrastructure in a region that is vulnerable to severe weather.  For example, Hurricanes Gustav and Ike damaged offshore oil production and several refineries, disrupting gasoline supplies.

Did you know that most hurricanes start life as areas of rough weather and thunderstorms in the tropics. Many of these disturbances, or tropical waves, produce little more than heavy rain and gusty winds. But if a tropical wave succeeds in spinning into a complete circle of winds rotating around an area of low air pressure at its center, it’s given the name tropical depression. When a tropical depression’s peak sustained winds reach 39 miles per hour, it’s called a tropical storm.


As a tropical system strengthens, its winds spiral inward, concentrating moisture near the center. This spiraling, a result of Earth’s rotation, can’t happen near the equator. To benefit from the curving winds produced by the Coriolis effect, a storm needs to be at least 300 miles north or south of the equator.  When a tropical storm maintains wind speeds of at least 74 miles per hour, it’s known as a hurricane, at least in North and Central America.



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