Scientists see if global warming causes hurricanes
|CNN's Natalie Pawelski looks at hurricanes and global warming
September 17, 1999
Web posted at: 5:06 p.m. EDT (2106 GMT)
(CNN) -- Hurricanes are born in the tropics for a reason: warm water is their fuel.
So some researchers are looking into whether a warmer Earth could bring stronger tropical storms with higher winds and more destruction.
"Certainly, if we warm up the atmosphere that's gonna have effects on the current weather patterns," said John St. John, a research scientist at the Georgia Institute of Technology.
"But our ability to model these is limited by what we understand."
Scientists say that so far, hurricane history provides no evidence of any connection between global warming and hurricanes.
"As recently as four or five years ago, we had a very active season with strong hurricanes -- 1995," said Edward Rappaport of the National Hurricane Center.
"Just two years later though was a very quiet year. Now we're back at an active year. It's hard to pinpoint a relationship between that and global warming, at least at this point."
It is predicted that future hurricanes could be up to 20 percent stronger than today's
Looking into the next century, one study projected future hurricanes up to 20 percent stronger than today's.
But many researchers believe other factors -- including La Nina and other big weather systems -- will overpower any effect global warming might have.
Most climate scientists say that Earth does seem to be heating up.
They think carbon dioxide and other so-called greenhouse gases form an atmospheric blanket that is warming the Earth.
Researchers caution that one has to consider questions of climate change over decades, even centuries.
One weather event, like a strong hurricane or a rough hurricane season, cannot alone be blamed on global warming.
CNN Correspondent Natalie Pawelski contributed to this report.
Floyd's floods hit N.C., N.J. hardest
September 17, 1999
Weakened Floyd lashes New York, Northeast
September 16, 1999
Floyd spawns tornadoes en route to Carolinas
September 15, 1999
Floyd bashes Bahamas, takes aim at Florida
September 14, 1999
'Very, very dangerous' Floyd heads toward Florida
September 13, 1999
'Extremely dangerous' Hurricane Floyd heads for Bahamas, Florida
September 12, 1999
Hurricane Floyd picks up steam as it moves toward U.S.
September 11, 1999
National Hurricane Center
Joint Typhoon Warning Center
The Hurricane Hunters
The Met.Office-United Kingdom
National Weather Service
Cooperative Institute for Meteorological Satellite Studies
FEMA: Federal Emergency Management Agency
FEMA for Kids -- Hurricanes
Note: Pages will open in a new browser window
External sites are not endorsed by CNN Interactive.