Al Gore, Global Warming and Hurricanes

Now, the scientific community is warning us that the average hurricane will continue to get stronger because of global warming. A scientist at MIT has published a study well before this tragedy showing that since the 1970s, hurricanes in both the Atlantic and the Pacific have increased in duration, and in intensity, by about 50 %.
To test Al Gore’s assertions, I download the NOA hurricane database (Atlantic only), adding information for hurricanes from 2005.
Intensity is measure in either wind speed or pressure. Unfortunately, we only have numbers back to the 1960s for pressure, so wind speed is better, as it gives us a wider number of years to consider (Hurricane data dates back to the 1850s). We can also run number of hurricanes of a greater force.
Wind Speed: In average max hurricane wind speed (only hurricanes), the speeds are higher now than the eighties and early nineties, but there are other times when the cycle was high. The average hurricane wind speed sits in the mid 90s (mph); in the mid 60s, the numbers were in the 100s to the 110s (mph). Result: There is no evidence that global warming has increased wind speed.
What about all storms, not just hurricanes? For all storms, the speeds are currently averaging in the mid 70s (mph). This trend is also seen in the early 60s.
We see the trends for both hurricane winds and all storms with similar cycles in the 1930s, 1910s and the 1890s and the 1850s.
Number of hurricanes of greater force: When we look at just the numbers, we see category 5 storms in 1935, 1969, 1992 and 2005. If we expand to 4s and 5s, 2005 is a banner year, with three of these types of storms. 1915 has 2 storms of these categories. Sounds pretty convincing, right.
If we index this, however, by taking number of storms * intensity, we end up with more interesting numbers. 2005 still wins, with an index of 19. The rest are as follows:
  • 1886 – 15
  • 2004 – 14
  • 1893 – 13
  • 1933 – 13
  • 1909 – 12
  • 1916 – 11
  • 1985 – 11
  • 1954 – 10
  • 1964 – 9
  • 1915 – 9
  • 1926 – 9

Once again, we are seeing cycles. This index is also shown on the Junk Science site in a nice chart.  With indexes, we once again see a cycle, although this gives a stronger argument for Mr. Gore’s point, if the trend continues, that is.

So, what about duration? The average duration for 2003 is 9.4375, 2004 is 10.333 and 2005, thus far, has shaped up to 6 days of duration. During the 1890s, the average duration was as high. We also see this trend throughout the 1960s and late 80s. The 70s were largely low duration storms (5-6 days average).

The 70s were cherry picked to fit the data to the point. Had a wider net been thrown, the numbers would not favor the global warming causes hurricanes scenario.

Does this mean we should not be concerned about our environment? Certainly not, but we need to think rather than simply react to politicos bashing each other. By using our brains, we find out that much of the information out there is pure bovine fecal matter designed to get people stirred up about one cause or another, with little regard to fact.

The statements and studies also show how you can selectively use numbers to make any point you desire. This means we, the people, must take the time to examine the numbers ourselves.


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