Global warming and stronger storms

This one was supposed to be easy – the Earth is warming up, this feeds more energy into the weather system and therefore we will get stronger storms.

Anyone spot my mistake yet? It took me quite some time and a little question to a famous meteorologist before I found it, and only after I had been bothered by the fact that the number of tropical storms and landfalling hurricanes have been declining.

I am pretty sure this is a very complicated field of study and my simple mistake is only in the top-most layer of understanding. There are bound to be many more layers beneath that can and most likely will change the overall result – nevertheless:

It is not the amount of energy in a system that tells us how it will act. It is the energy differentials that does.

A container with a perfect distribution of energy will have no further exchanges of energy, while a container with all the energy in one end will diffuse that energy to the other.

So, what about the future?

Looking to the future, is it better to extrapolate trends from 1945, 1970, 1980 or some other year? Projection based on curve-fitting is usually a mug’s game, and the same is true here. The simple fact is that if you tell me what trend you want in hurricanes, I can probably find it for you based on the selection of a starting point for analysis. It is a cherry-picker’s feast. That helps to explain why the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change [IPCC] has concluded that it is premature to assert the detection of trends in hurricanes resulting from human-caused climate change.
— Roger Pielke Jr., “A Remarkable Decline in Landfalling Hurricanes

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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1 Response to Global warming and stronger storms

  1. Pingback: Ways to talk about extreme weather | Henning's blog

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