Unsurprisingly, the University is trumpeting (via its emailed newsletter) this new study — warming oceans may make more and nastier hurricanes, but also contributes to phenomena which weaken them (and tends to send them elsewhere — well south-east of us).
A change in the wind: global warming, wind shear, and future hurricane activity Climate model simulations for the 21st century indicate a robust increase in wind shear in the tropical Atlantic due to global warming, which may inhibit hurricane development and intensification. Historically, increased wind shear has been associated with reduced hurricane activity and intensity. This new finding is reported in a study by scientists at the Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science (RSMAS) and NOAA's Geophysical Fluid Dynamics Laboratory (GFDL) in Princeton, N.J., and appears in the April 18 issue of Geophysical Research Letters.
While other studies have linked global warming to an increase in hurricane intensity, this study is the first to identify changes in wind shear that could counteract these effects.
“The environmental changes found here do not suggest a strong increase in tropical Atlantic hurricane activity during the 21st century,” says Brian Soden, associate professor of meteorology and physical oceanography at RSMAS and the paper's co-author. However, the study does identify other regions, such as the western tropical Pacific, where global warming does cause the environment to become more favorable for hurricanes.
“This study does not, in any way, undermine the widespread consensus in the scientific community about the reality of global warming,” says Soden. “In fact, the wind shear changes are driven by global warming.”.