Having grown up far from coasts, hurricanes paralyze me.
Almost as if they have the intention to destroy, they conjure force, take aim and begin a rampage. We watch satellite images of one storm unleash a trail of multiple, major disasters (if it falls on land) with a power it sustains for days. (I’m used to tornadoes — they last hours.)
Such is the case with Hurricane Dean right now, as news coverage briefs us on where the hurricane has been — the Caribbean, the Yucatan Peninsula — and where it’s going — the Mexican Gulf.
Next week, the Center for American Progress is coming out with a report entitled Forecast: Storm Warning. There will be an event on Monday [details to come] to mark its release with experts from the field, including Peter J. Webster from the Georgia Institute of Technology, and Mayor Richard T. Crotty of Orange County, FL. While the report’s focus is on how to prepare our communities for hurricanes, it briefly reviews the latest science.
Chris Mooney, who recently wrote Storm World: Hurricanes, Politics, and the Battle over Global Warming, has a post framing Hurricane Dean. Its intensity and behavior, Mooney writes, “is certainly consistent with the idea advanced by some scientists that global warming is causing an intensification of the average hurricane.” (Mooney has also written on Dean here.)
Although the evidence linking global warming to more the recent spate of intense hurricanes is not as overwhelming as the evidence for human-caused global warming alone, there is a significant amount of research that suggests that global warming fuels hurricane intensity (the IPCC concurs), and even some recent reports on hurricane frequency (see this news release and PDF).
The hurricane season is upon us and is, eerily, a good time to top off your summer reading with these timely reports before the Congressional energy conference and global warming legislation in the fall!