Warmer water temperatures aren’t enough to explain the increase of strong hurricanes says a climate expert at the University of Virginia.
"It is too simplistic to only implicate sea-surface temperatures in the dramatic increase in the number of major hurricanes," says Patrick J. Michaels, a research professor at UVa.
Michaels just spearheaded a study by the school’s climate researchers that concluded global warming is not the sole reason we’re experiencing more severe Atlantic hurricanes, according to an article in the Richmond Times Dispatch.
"There are more severe hurricanes appearing than are explainable by the rise in sea-surface temperatures since the 1990s," says Michaels, director of the Virginia Climatology Office.
Michaels found that warmer water temperatures are only half of the story as to why we’re experiencing stronger hurricanes.
"We should have had 28 Category 3 storms from the warming" between 1995 and 2005, Michaels said. "Instead we had 42."
The Dispatch goes on to report that "Michaels believes the increase in hurricane activity beginning in the 1990s is related mainly to variation in the North Atlantic’s temperature patterns, not temperature change itself."
"The pattern can appear whether it’s cool or whether it’s warm," Michaels said.
The study, conducted by Michaels, Robert E. Davis and Paul C. Knappenberger will appear today in the journal Geophysical Research Letters, reports the Dispatch.