Hurricane scientists divided on global warming issue

By: Dr. Jeff Masters , 4:15 AM GMT on April 27, 2006

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Greetings from Monterey, California, where the 27th annual meeting of the American Meteorological Society's conference on Hurricanes and Tropical Meteorology is taking place. It's been a feast of information for the 500-plus hurricane buffs here this week! I'm having trouble choosing between attending any of four simultaneous scientific talks offered--or catching up with old friends outside the sessions. Fortunately, the weather has been rather dreary, so I feel no guilt about being a troglodyte and hiding in dark rooms watching slides of awesome hurricanes of years gone by. There have been some fantastic talks, and I've learned an enormous amount of new information that I will share with you in blogs over the coming weeks.

There have been a number of sharp debates on the hurricane/global warming issue, and this controversy has really been difficult for the hurricane science community. There were some rather uncomfortable arguments between some of the scientists at talks on Monday, but a more civilized debate last night during a panel discussion featuring four of the experts who've published papers on the subject. The discussion lasted nearly three hours, and could have lasted much longer, as only about 20 of the 60 questions posed by the audience of over 300 were answered. I'll have a detailed look at what was said in a blog next week. Contrary to what one might expect from the headline of yesterday's CNN story from Reuters (Experts: Global warming behind 2005 hurricanes), hurricane experts at this conference are very divided about this issue. There is a lot of very confusing and conflicting information to consider, and the science is a long way from being settled.

My next blog from Monterey will be Friday morning, when I plan to discuss a radical hurricane modification proposal presented at the meeting. Is it feasible to tame the next Katrina with modern technology?

Jeff Masters

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91. SickOfDumbQuestions
7:22 PM GMT on April 28, 2006
Colby went tooooo far. Shouldn't have broken the disc's but sold them on e-bay and made a little cash....

:) That way you can reward yourself for breaking your addiction.


90. snowboy
5:25 AM GMT on April 28, 2006
congrats Colby! but please don't break the WU addiction - your expertise is needed and appreciated here..
Member Since: September 21, 2005 Posts: 10 Comments: 2549
89. snowski
4:51 AM GMT on April 28, 2006
Ozone is formed by the action of ultraviolet light on oxygen. In the absence of light, it doesn't form. Since it's dark six months of the year in Antactica, perhaps this explains the ozone "hole." The same phenomenon occurs to a lesser extent during the arctic winter--probably for the same reason.

Just because a researcher discovered an inverse relationship between O3 and chlorine oxide concentrations in the antarctic stratosphere, doesn't establish a cause-and-effect relationship. A more likely explanation is darkness.
88. louastu
4:10 AM GMT on April 28, 2006
Posted By: Trouper415 at 3:39 AM GMT on April 28, 2006.
The fact that we as a people were able to identify a problem such as the Coral Floral Carbons which tore a hole much bigger than we had originally thought in the Ozone, and were able to reverse the problem almost entirely shows that we as humans can now alter something as expansive as our atmosphere which affects every action we make.

I was not aware that this supposed problem had been resolved. I would like to where you are getting that information from?

I am also not convinced that humans are responsible for the ozone "hole". I would expect that if CFC's were the sole cause of ozone thinning, that the thinning would take place over a larger area, especially over the countries who were producing CFC's, and not in an area that is uninhabited.

The so called hole was discovered in the 70's. That does not mean it did not exist before that time, and I think it is possible that it has existed for centuries.
87. Trouper415
3:50 AM GMT on April 28, 2006
As far as Global Warming. I see this as a situation that we have identified both as a problem with consequences, and the fact that we can fix the problem with enough effort. The fact that we as a people were able to identify a problem such as the Coral Floral Carbons which tore a hole much bigger than we had originally thought in the Ozone, and were able to reverse the problem almost entirely shows that we as humans can now alter something as expansive as our atmosphere which affects every action we make.

The aformentioned problem was solved with rather little effort but took activism to get it done. Now, the human race is faced with yet another situation which possibly could have results even more dire than killing the Ozone.

We as a people have raised the concentration of C02 in the atmosphere over many decades and as far back as the 1940s-1950s identified the releasing of c02 to have effects on the weather and climate in general. The fact that we were lucky enough to identify the problem as soon as we did is a miracle in itself.

Now, if we raised the c02 concentration in the atsmosphere which has tilted the original balance that was in place, than the resulting lowering of the c02 concentration in the atmosphere would help to stabalize that original balance.
Member Since: September 22, 2005 Posts: 5 Comments: 637
86. louastu
3:49 AM GMT on April 28, 2006
There are two things I am addicted to in this world. They are Coca-Cola, and the weather. I love both and will never give them up, even if they end up killing me.
85. Scotth
3:43 AM GMT on April 28, 2006
smart man, Colby. But more importantly...intelligent man for seeing a flaw and doing something about it. I was addicted for many years...to alcohol. Not like a fall down drunk but just addicted to drinking every night. And it limited my capacity. Then one night I took a look at my kids and realized that they don't deserve it...looked in the mirror and realized that I'm better than this....and haven't touched it for about 6 years now. Its a good feeling to know you have control over your life.
Member Since: August 4, 2004 Posts: 0 Comments: 23
84. Levi32
3:34 AM GMT on April 28, 2006
Thanks Rich you have a great night too. Good night.
Member Since: November 24, 2005 Posts: 635 Comments: 26684
83. atmosweather
3:31 AM GMT on April 28, 2006
Nice talking to you too Levi! I hope to talk with you tomorrow. Have a great night :)
Member Since: September 24, 2005 Posts: 33 Comments: 9265
82. atmosweather
3:30 AM GMT on April 28, 2006
Yeah she does look good louastu. I feel stupid for failing to look at the shear map and assuming the stupid algorithm was right.
Member Since: September 24, 2005 Posts: 33 Comments: 9265
81. Levi32
3:29 AM GMT on April 28, 2006
Hey Rich I will be busy the rest of the night nice talking to you! I will see you tomorrow!
Member Since: November 24, 2005 Posts: 635 Comments: 26684
80. louastu
3:28 AM GMT on April 28, 2006
I am glad to know that I wasn't wrong about her looking good on IR. I was feeling kind of stupid for a minute there.


P.S. I just realized that I have no idea where to find a shear map for that part of the world, and am feeling a little stupid once again.
79. atmosweather
3:27 AM GMT on April 28, 2006
The only thing I see wrong with her is that her cloud pattern is elongated and tilted NE to SW. That indicates just a little bit of easterly trade wind up in the upper levels. If she sorts that out then a Category 4 or 5 cyclone is not out of the question as SSTs are very warm and heat content is excellent.
Member Since: September 24, 2005 Posts: 33 Comments: 9265
78. atmosweather
3:23 AM GMT on April 28, 2006
Well in that case she is rapidly deepening. Her appearance has doubled in attractiveness over the last 4 hours.
Member Since: September 24, 2005 Posts: 33 Comments: 9265
77. atmosweather
3:23 AM GMT on April 28, 2006
And that's why I don't score 2400. Well pointed out Colby. It is indeed another idiotic mistake by the AODT. I never thought to actually look at the shear map LOL :)
Member Since: September 24, 2005 Posts: 33 Comments: 9265
76. hurricanebill
3:21 AM GMT on April 28, 2006
Oh and I thought it was that Colby wasnt a virgin anymore..My bad...
Member Since: January 17, 2006 Posts: 0 Comments: 8
75. atmosweather
3:21 AM GMT on April 28, 2006
Wow Colby that's great. 2030 is a great score (mine is only 50 points better and I'm a junior). I think 2300 is possible if you spent just an hour more than you do. I am happy for you that you have decided to focus on learning. You are extremely smart and you will only learn more this way.
Member Since: September 24, 2005 Posts: 33 Comments: 9265
74. ForecasterColby
3:20 AM GMT on April 28, 2006
Uhh, atmos:

That's the algorithm being stupid and missing the eye completely. Shear is almost zero.

73. ForecasterColby
3:17 AM GMT on April 28, 2006
Neither. Allow me to give a brief explanation. This will sound stupid to some of you.

From the time I was introduced to video gaming at age 5, I've been rather compulsive about it. For ten years now [roughly 2/3 of my life], I've averaged 4-5 hours of play a day, and for the last four years, more like 8+. I realized tonight that despite that (and this is not blowing my own horn), I am still smarter than 98% of the American population, scored a 2030 on my SAT - while sick, and without studying, as a sophmore, and can generally find any piece of information I need. I've spent probably an average of 15-20 active minutes a day on learning for the last four years, and before that I may have paid attention in school, but I didn't do a whole lot else. So tonight, I realized something - what if those 15-20 minutes were 8 hours? I took a long walk to solidify the thought in my mind, set up some mental anchors, returned home, snapped every game disk I own and wiped half my hard drive. I hold no illusions - I was addicted, as much as any alchoholic or druggie might be. Tonight, that ended, and will not return. So in essence, Scott, I realized that the uncurable disease I've had for a decade is curable, and cured it.
72. Scotth
3:14 AM GMT on April 28, 2006
OR....your wife wants a divorce because you spend more time with us than you do with her.......... C...O...L...B...YYYYYY. Do tell friend. What you wrote didn't sound encouraging.
Member Since: August 4, 2004 Posts: 0 Comments: 23
71. atmosweather
3:13 AM GMT on April 28, 2006
Louastu,

I was thinking the same thing until I checked this:



Look at all of that easterly shear!
Member Since: September 24, 2005 Posts: 33 Comments: 9265
70. Scotth
3:07 AM GMT on April 28, 2006
Colby - Either you just found out that you have an incurable disease, or you just found out that your going to be a father. So...which is it? The latter I hope.
Member Since: August 4, 2004 Posts: 0 Comments: 23
68. louastu
2:50 AM GMT on April 28, 2006
I got that information off of a local news station website. The story is actually about an ethanol plant they are going to be building in Indiana.

Here is a link to that story.
67. louastu
2:46 AM GMT on April 28, 2006
Mala is looking pretty good on IR.
66. Zaphod
2:42 AM GMT on April 28, 2006
Exxon-Mobile isn't the largest, IIRC -- probably not even in the top 10. It's the largest PUBLICALLY TRADED company. The really big ones are nationally owned and you know nothing about their financials. They're supporting regimes without your best interests at heart, and looking long-term far beyond Exxon to control remaining reserves.

It's fun to complain about Exxon, but it would be just as easy to buy a few shares to hedge your gas tank and worry about bigger issues.

Zap
Member Since: October 5, 2005 Posts: 15 Comments: 3239
65. snowski
2:33 AM GMT on April 28, 2006
I'm a little concerned about Mala. The population density of Bangladesh is 10,000 time that of Northern Territory, Australia where Monica came ashore:

64. ForecasterColby
2:33 AM GMT on April 28, 2006
Well, tonight is the first night of the rest of my life. I can't really explain, but I am not the person I was three hours ago.

63. louastu
2:32 AM GMT on April 28, 2006
Does anyone else think this is rediculous?

While you're paying record gas prices at the pump, the world's largest oil company is making a huge profit. Exxon-Mobil reported first quarter earnings Thursday. The company says profits went up seven percent from last year. That translates to an income of $8.4 billion for the first quarter.
62. ForecasterColby
2:31 AM GMT on April 28, 2006
Snowman, she's 80kt right now according to NRL, still cat 1.
61. Scotth
2:27 AM GMT on April 28, 2006
It snows in Hawaii! Is that a sign of global warming? But Wikipedia describes the tropics as "torrid". That would mean "hot". But ww (collectively speaking) continue to focus on our own few little points in the world. And conveniently disregard the parts of the world that are seeing record cold temperatures. Now, if we go messing with things, tell me what will happen. True, we might be able to lessen the effects of OUR storms on the gulf coast or the florida peninsula or Australia....but will someone like Snowboy never be able to leave his house in Canada because of frigid temps? That's my argument. We MAY change the intensity in our little section of the Earth...but what wil we do to the rest of the world?
Member Since: August 4, 2004 Posts: 0 Comments: 23
60. Scotth
2:17 AM GMT on April 28, 2006
I agree with not messing with Mother Nature. We have to ride this out. Its a cycle. Have we helped it?...probably...more than likely I would say. But people keep doing the same thing, and it just gets my goat every time I read some of these blogs. The doomsayers continue to harp on global warming/climate change. Hey!...guess what? Hurricanes, Typhoons, Cyclones are all hapening in the Tropics. Wikipedia describes the tropics .

Member Since: August 4, 2004 Posts: 0 Comments: 23
59. TheSnowman
2:09 AM GMT on April 28, 2006
What's it's category
58. HurricaneKing
2:03 AM GMT on April 28, 2006
Sorry about the size.
Member Since: July 6, 2005 Posts: 71 Comments: 2485
57. Scotth
2:03 AM GMT on April 28, 2006
Hurrycane - The world doesn't have enough ice nor could it make enough ice to make a minute difference in even one small hurricane.
Member Since: August 4, 2004 Posts: 0 Comments: 23
56. HurricaneKing
2:02 AM GMT on April 28, 2006


The area near the east coast is getting bigger.
Member Since: July 6, 2005 Posts: 71 Comments: 2485
55. HurryCane
1:53 AM GMT on April 28, 2006
Dumb comment, I guess, but if we could dump ice in the hurricane as it it forms, the water would not continue to heat up, right? Left alone to form and destroy lives, hurricanes churn up cooler water presumably dissuading further hurricanes from forming. But so would the mega amounts of ice it would take to chill out potential storms.
Member Since: July 10, 2005 Posts: 27 Comments: 30
54. lightning10
1:45 AM GMT on April 28, 2006
Getting rid of FEMA is just another way to cut government.

Yes they failed but they should have learned from there mistakes. They where underfunded to start off with. I bleave it could be saved.
Member Since: November 24, 2005 Posts: 41 Comments: 630
53. ForecasterColby
1:31 AM GMT on April 28, 2006
Holy pinhole, Batman!

52. StellarCyclone
1:22 AM GMT on April 28, 2006
I am very opposed to messing around with hurricanes. Let nature be, and let us adjust to it as much as possible. Who knows what side-effects we would be creating? I wonder how much weather control is already being done?
50. Cavin Rawlins
11:53 PM GMT on April 27, 2006
it is reported that FEMA will be abolish
Member Since: July 24, 2005 Posts: 407 Comments: 19076
49. Inyo
10:28 PM GMT on April 27, 2006
Posted By: rwdobson at 5:34 PM GMT on April 27, 2006.
and also, Inyo, think of all the "controlled burns" that have gone wrong lately....


Hmm, I haven't heard of too many going wrong lately in the West, and i work around a lot of firefighters. However, there have been a few big ones.

The main problem is that controlled burns are our attempt to fix one of our other problems - over the last 100 years we've been putting out the small fires that naturally occur in some areas, such as ponderosa pine forests. In this case, the fuel has built up to huge levels, and very flammable trees such as White Fir have invaded these stands. Normally, the low intensity fires would burn off the debris and the white fir but not kill the ponderosa pine. Now, huge fires are coming through and killing EVERYTHING, partially beacuse the trees are too dense, making them more vulnerable to drought and fire. So, in some cases people are trying to thin out the forests and/or run fires in less extreme situations, to reduce the fuel load. It is indeed controversial but its not exactly an attempt to 'control' nature so much as put it back how it was.

I know this is off topic but since i am a botanist, i felt i had something to add about it.
Member Since: September 3, 2002 Posts: 42 Comments: 873
47. Hawkeyewx
10:07 PM GMT on April 27, 2006
No, but I think we'd be better off with a FEMA committee report recommending the breakup of congress.
Member Since: July 5, 2005 Posts: 2 Comments: 1924
46. Flakeman
10:06 PM GMT on April 27, 2006
SODQ : Have to agree. Look what happened when, after years of zero tolerance for fire in the west, nature came back with a vengeance. Yellowstone fires from 199?.
Member Since: March 3, 2006 Posts: 9 Comments: 374
45. BenRMac
10:02 PM GMT on April 27, 2006
Anyone care to comment on the congressional committee report today that recommended the break-up of FEMA?
44. ForecasterColby
9:10 PM GMT on April 27, 2006
Mala is gonna be a bad girl, I think. If the shear drops off, she could easily get up around 120-130kt - and in that part of the world...:(
43. SickOfDumbQuestions
8:44 PM GMT on April 27, 2006
I would always be hesitant to mess with a hurricane. They are after all, a big heat pump. So we weaken them and what should happen, shouldn't the sea stay warmer, allowing for an even stronger storm, that we tame to nothing, again allowing the waters to warm more, and so on.

Honestly, I think we need to stop messing with nature as much as possible. Even though I believe that most Global warming is natural and that we do indeed add to it, we need to stop trying to control the weather, and live with what we have. Hurricanes form for a reason, and killing them off, more than likely would have repercussions that we have yet to forsee.

So even if this technology could take HUGE amount of energy and some how weaken it, the overall affect is that energy would have to go someplace, and that would be back to the sea, where evenutally the water would be warm enough that nothing we could do would stop it...

Just think about that for a minute. Imagine being able to stop EVERY hurricane and TS last year. The release an incredible amount of energy, do you think the waters would just cool naturally and go about there merry way, or would something eventually form and become very strong to the likes we have never seen?

We are modifying the environment already, enough is enough. Hurricanes are not the problem, the people who live on the coast are.

Don't mess with mother nature, because we all know mother nature always has the last laugh.

-Ryan (SODQ)
42. rwdobson
8:25 PM GMT on April 27, 2006
swlaggie--Forecaster Colby did an interesting thing where he overlayed several cycles, each with differing lengths and amplitudes, and generated a very interesting pattern of temperature. It's amazing what seemingly chaotic patterns can arise out of several predictable patters being lain on top of each other.

the short answer is, it's really hard to separate these cycles from the human influences...
Member Since: June 12, 2002 Posts: 0 Comments: 1589
41. atmosweather
8:10 PM GMT on April 27, 2006
Pinhole eye alert*** - 4:00 PM EDT

Mala develops a 5 mile wide eye based on MIMIC imagery and infrared satellite data.
Member Since: September 24, 2005 Posts: 33 Comments: 9265

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Jeff co-founded the Weather Underground in 1995 while working on his Ph.D. He flew with the NOAA Hurricane Hunters from 1986-1990.

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