North Atlantic Storm Strength Linked to CO2

December 3, 2012


Appears to support what Kerry Emanuel has been saying.


Tropical storms that make their way into the North Atlantic, and possibly strike the East Coast of the United States, likely will become more intense during the rest of this century.

That’s the prediction of one University of Iowa researcher and his colleague as published in an early online release in the prestigious Journal of Climate, the official publication of the American Meteorological Society.

The study is a compilation of results from some of the best available computer models of climate, according to lead author Gabriele Villarini, assistant professor of civil and environmental engineering and assistant research engineer at IIHR-Hydroscience & Engineering, and his colleague Gabriel Vecchi of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Princeton, N.J.

“We wanted to conduct the study because intense tropical cyclones can harm people and property,” Villarini says. “The adverse and long-lasting influence of such storms recently was demonstrated by the damage Hurricane Sandy created along the East Coast.”

The study itself examines projected changes in the North Atlantic Power Dissipation Index (PDI) using output from 17 state-of-the-art global climate models and three different potential scenarios. The PDI is an index that integrates storm intensity, duration, and frequency.

“We found that the PDI is projected to increase in the 21st century in response to both greenhouse gas increases and reductions in particulate pollution over the Atlantic over the current century. By relating these results to other findings in a paper we published May 13, 2012 in the journal Nature Climate Change, we found that, while the number of storms is not projected to increase, their intensity is,” he says.

“Moreover, our results indicate that as more carbon dioxide is emitted, the stronger the storms get, while scenarios with the most aggressive carbon dioxide mitigation show the smallest increase in intensity,” he says.


12 Responses to “North Atlantic Storm Strength Linked to CO2”

  1. […] Appears to support what Kerry Emanuel has been saying. IowaNow: Tropical storms that make their way into the North Atlantic, and possibly strike the East Coast of the United States, likely will bec…  […]

  2. rayduray Says:

    Re: ” ” the stronger the storms get, while scenarios with the most aggressive carbon dioxide mitigation show the smallest increase in intensity,” he says.”

    Not to pick nits here but strength and intensity are two different things. In terms of strength, Hurricane/Superstorm Sandy was a monster. But when it his land in NY/NJ it was barely a Category 1 storm. It was not particularly intense.

    Another example would be Hurricane Katrina two days before landfall. at that point it peaked at Category 5 on the Saffir-Simpson scale. It was extremely intense, but not as strong as Sandy when that storm was working its way up the coast.

    Dr. Jeff Masters has more discussion of the differences in this insightful post:

    QUOTE: “Most incredibly, ten hours before landfall (9:30 am EDT October 30), the total energy of Sandy’s winds of tropical storm-force and higher peaked at 329 terajoules–the highest value for any Atlantic hurricane since at least 1969. This is 2.7 times higher than Katrina’s peak energy….,”

    • omnologos Says:

      Very good Ray. Doesn’t make one very confident in such a paper, does it.

      Imnsho we’ve had enough of these “prediction” papers. Hard to imagine any new one of them making any difference.

      • rayduray Says:


        You remind me very much of the fool who is put down in this video. You have absolutely no sense, but you do have an idiotic and malignant ideology you adhere to in spite of its ill fit to reality. I dare say you would be politically allied with this modern version of Atë, the Greek goddess of mischief, delusion, and folly. Are you her husband?

          • omnologos Says:

            I just agreed with you Ray.

            It is noticeable how you find this site conducive to a torrent of hate towards any human being on sight (even Martin Lack). I can only hope this commenting of yours is some kind of therapy and you will end up feeling better.

          • jasonpettitt Says:

            Storm strength is a product of its intensity.

            Systems science (such as the study of climate where there are many variables and factors at play) does not hinge on the results single papers, but the preponderance of evidence across many research efforts. The research in the original article is one of a number of studies (see Grinsted et al 2012 for a good empirical example – ) that support the basic understanding that storms will get stronger as a result of global warming.

            It’s not like we haven’t been through this stuff dozens of times before on this very website Omnologos. I guess there’s none as blind as those who won’t see.

          • omnologos Says:

            Jason – too many negatives in your sentence, not sure what you want to say.

            I wrote that seeing a new paper confirming what has been said on this website time and again is not news, and it’s unlikely to be noteworthy.

          • rayduray Says:


            Re: “Storm strength is a product of its intensity.”

            This statement is too simplistic. Of course there is a relationship between storm strength as defined by energy in terajoules and intensity by its Saffir-Simpson rating. But you also have to consider the size of the wind field. Thus, as Dr. Masters recently pointed out, while Hurricane Sandy was a mere Cat 1 at its moment of greatest strength it was significantly stronger than Hurricane Katrina when she was a Cat 5.

            So strength and intensity are not measuring the same thing. Nor is storm strength always positively correlated with intensity.

            I am in complete agreement that global warming will provide greater potential for damaging storms due to the fact that the atmosphere can hold more moisture at a warmer temperature. However, it is too soon for me to conjecture on the other factors that go into creating tropical storms such as wind shear, ENSO and other factors.

            I think that the future of hurricanes/typhoons remains an enigma. For example, as of a week ago I was joking about “believing” that global warming would be having an impact when we had a major tropical storm spin up at the Equator. We came close with Supertyphoon Bopha which organized at 3.6 North Latitude. While not unprecedented, this is an extremely rare occurrence. Is this a harbinger of things to come or just an anomaly? It’s too soon to tell, as far as I’m concerned.

          • omnologos Says:

            I have already stated several years ago that if we had a cyclone Catarina every year or more, I’d jump at once in the “climate is changing dramatically” camp.

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