Will Global Warming Cause an Increase in Hurricanes and Severe Storms?

It has been widely reported that hurricanes and severe storms are increasing as a result of human-made global warming.  In 1996, Newsweek carried a cover story titled, “Blizzards, Floods and Hurricanes: Blame Global Warming.”  Is there any evidence to support this?

The meteorological record is clear on the question.  The chart below shows that there has been no upward trend in the number of tropical storms and hurricanes in the Atlantic during the last 50 years although the concentration of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere has been increasingly rapidly (Landsea, C.W., et al., 1996, Geophysical Research Letters, Vol. 23, No. 13, 1697-1700, with permission).

The black bars in the chart also show the number of the most intense and destructive hurricanes with sustained winds of 100 miles an hour or more.  The chart shows that these exceptionally violent and destructive hurricanes have actually become less frequent in the last 50 years.  The 1995 IPCC report says “Overall there is no evidence that extreme weather events, or climate variability, has increased, in a global sense, through the 20th century.”

The bottom line is that actual observations of the climate show that there is no foundation for fears that increases in greenhouse gases are causing an increase in the number of hurricanes and violent storms.

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