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8b-typhoon global warming

8b-typhoon global warming - GECR0411_11_15 3:20 PM Page 1...

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The 2004 Hurricane Season: Global Warming in Action? F olks in the southeastern portions of the United States and the Caribbean have been “blown away” by the seemingly endless progression of hurricanes and tropical storms to hit their shores this year. No fewer than four storms of hurricane magnitude have pummeled the region and one, Ivan, had the audacity to swing around and try for a second shot (albeit as a less ferocious storm than the first time around). As of this writing, there are still a few weeks left to go in the Atlantic hurricane season and maybe the wise choice for hard-hit homeowners is to lay low until it is safe to rebuild. Could the seeming severity of this year’s season be a result of global warming? Or is it just bad luck? What Does it Take to Form a Hurricane? (Or Thinking Like a System) It’s difficult to wrap our minds around the multiple factors that interact to form a hurricane. An article in the Sacramento Bee (17 September 2004, see www.sacbee.com/24hour/nation/ story/1663461p-9405260c.html ), describes hurricanes as “a com- plex dance between the atmosphere and the oceans.” Hurricanes are born of warm water. When the Pacific Ocean cools, such as during a La Niña episode, the Atlantic tends to warm up, producing more hurricanes. When the wind shear that cuts off rising storms over the Atlantic slackens and humid winds from Africa grow stronger, conditions are ripe for hurricane development. Hurricanes get their start when large pools of warm water (at least 81°F) in the subtropical Atlantic heat the adjacent air, producing a rising col- umn of warm, moist air and a low-pressure zone (depression) at the surface. Air rushes in from surrounding areas of higher pressure to fill the vacuum; the planet’s rotation causes these winds to spin counterclockwise, creating the steamy core, or “eye,” of the storm. The energy of the developing storm comes from the condensation of water vapor as the rising air cools, which explains why hurri- canes often die a fast death over land, cut off from their needed supply of warm water. In This Issue Policy and Economics Page 3 British Leaders Make Climate Issues a Priority EU-15 Turn Down Emissions Mexico Takes Lead Science Update Page 6 The Power of Glaciers Northern Climates Seeing Evidence of Climate Change Industry Watch Page 7 Cars Get Cleaner Japan’s GHG Reduction Strategy: the Four-fold Path Emissions Trading Page 9 Russian Ratification Boosts Carbon Market TransAlta and TEPCO Go Whole Hog with CDM European Union Council Adopts Linking Directive In Brief VOL.XVII,NO.11 NOVEMBER 2004 1 POLICY, SCIENCE, AND INDUSTRY NEWS WORLDWIDE, FROM ASPEN PUBLISHERS Focus Report
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According to the University of Illinois Guide to Hurricanes , available at http://ww2010.atmos.uiuc.edu/ %28Gh%29/guides/mtr/hurr/home.rxml , a tropical depres- sion can evolve into a tropical storm with sustained winds of 39–73 miles per hour (mph). At this stage the storm is given a name. When the sustained winds reach 74 mph, the storm
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