Is human-made climate change affecting the number and intensity of hurricanes around the world?
Kerry Emanuel, professor of atmospheric science at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, believes it is.
Because hurricanes are affected by a difference in temperature, a warming atmosphere will intensify storms and the damage resulting from them, according to a recent study in the journal Nature.
Since about 1980, when scientists first developed the technology to observe hurricanes with the precision we expect today, hurricane power has roughly doubled in the Atlantic Ocean, said Emanuel.
That has led Emanuel and some, but not all, of his colleagues to argue that this indicates climate change is already playing a part in increasing hurricane strength in the Atlantic, though there is less evidence elsewhere.
But he points out that the majority of hurricanes form in the Pacific and Indian oceans and, as the climate changes, some places may actually see a drop in hurricane activity while others may see a dramatic rise.
"That hurricane power during the period of really good observations - from about 1980 until now - has roughly doubled in the Atlantic. That's a big signal." - Kerry Emanuel, professor of atmospheric science at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
1. What is the difference between a hurricane and a tropical storm?
2. Where do most hurricanes hit the U.S.?
3. How does global warming work?
1. Do you think the evidence is convincing that human-made climate change is affecting hurricane strength? Why or why not?
2. What other ways is climate change affecting weather around the world?
3. What can we do to lessen our contribution to human-made climate change?
Lesson Plan: Are the World's Weather and Climate Changing?:
Students Spread Awareness of Climate Change:
Copenhagen Climate Summit Challenges World Leaders: