A forthcoming article from the November issue of Environment and Climate News (which this author serves as senior editor), published by the Heartland Institute, quotes the past president of the American Association of State Climatologists as debunking the notion that hurricanes are increasing in intensity because of global warming. Pat Michales points out that the circumstances that cause the fiercest hurricanes have not changed at all in recent years:
“It is a contravention of science to attempt to link Katrina’s intensity to global warming,” said Pat Michaels, past president of the American Association of State Climatologists and senior fellow at the Cato Institute.
“Since 1982 we have had weekly records of sea surface temperature,” Michaels noted. “During this time period we can examine on a fine scale the relationship between hurricanes and sea-surface temperature. The threshold water temperature for category 3 hurricanes is 28 degrees C. Interestingly, for category 4 or 5 hurricanes, there is no statistical relationship with the amount of elevation beyond 28C. The Gulf of Mexico reaches 28 C every year, whether or not the planet has warmed or is cold.”
“The most intense tropical cyclone to ever strike the United States was hurricane Camille in 1969,” observed Michaels. “Camille landed very, very close to where Katrina landed. Significantly, Camille occurred when the temperature of the northern hemisphere was at its low point for its last 80 years. Camille simply needed an ocean temperature of 28 C. Clearly, it is irresponsible to link severe Gulf of Mexico hurricanes to global warming.”
The article goes on to quote Competitive Enterprise Institute senior fellow and statistician Iain Murray confirming that the sea surface temperatures in the Gulf of Mexico reaching 28 C is nothing new:
“For hurricanes in the Gulf of Mexico, sea surface temperatures need only get above 28 degrees C for them to help make the hurricane Category 4 or 5,” Murray said. “Sea surface temperatures there regularly go above that level, and have done so for as long as we can remember.”
Of course, we need only await the next incidence of severe weather somewhere in the world if we wish to hear the next crackpot theory about how human-caused global warming is causing previously unimaginable catastrophes. The scenario Michael Crichton outlined in his excellent novel State of Fear is still being played out in the U.S. and European media.