April 13, 2024
A Note on Climate Change and Hurricanes

Photo: National Weather Service

Hurricane Andrew - August 1992.

Florida Trend Online Exclusive

A Note on Climate Change and Hurricanes

Mike Vogel | 4/26/2022

The role of climate change in the development of hurricanes – and whether future storms can be expected to be more frequent and dangerous – is a major focus of scientists working to develop greater insights into what rising and warming oceans mean to coastal communities. Hurricane science is an evolving area of study as research centers develop more sophisticated tools to analyze data generated through satellite technology, predictive modeling, and real-time hurricane assessments. Every hurricane hunter flight launched by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration not only generates insight into a singular advancing storm but creates a wealth of knowledge about future storms.

As fellow Floridians vulnerable to storms, we encourage our readers to explore the science of hurricanes a little deeper in the sources referenced in our May 2022 article on the historical trajectory of hurricane season and what it means to different communities around the state. Click on the links to learn more from these resources.

In February, a working group of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change released a dire report on the looming impacts of climate change on the world’s vulnerable populations. But on the narrow question of the role of climate change in future hurricane activity, the scientific panel was less certain of what is to come.

The working group’s full report can be found here. More specifically, this chapter examines risks and mitigation.

Another source of scientific insight on the issue of hurricanes and climate change is ScienceBrief, an information platform that shows the state of scientific consensus on key topics using peer-reviewed publications. ScienceBrief analyzed climate change and the intensity of tropical cyclones in 2021.

And finally, it’s important to note that some of the confusion about where the scientific community stands on this and many other controversial issues at times has come down to a difference in how scientists communicate vs. the general public. Words such as “confidence” and “certainty” have very specific meaning in a scientific context and that is sometimes lost in translation as information flows between the two audiences. This 2013 perspective piece in The Conversation, which works to bridge the divide between academic experts and news audiences around the world, explained the nuances in advance of an IPCC report that year.

We encourage you to share your thoughts on this and other articles in the May edition at Letters@FloridaTrend.com.

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