Sea surface temperatures worldwide have increased 1 degree Fahrenheit over the past century. New studies indicate strong hurricanes are getting stronger thanks to global warming. This is happening at the same time sea level has risen half a foot from melting polar ice (click links for references).
Hurricane activity goes through cyclical periods altering between active and dormant. The issue for our generation is that cyclical hurricane activity has peaked at the same time that human activity has raised sea levels and storm intensities.
This trend is far more disturbing because the reason public policy has not changed is because of Koch-funded political contributions have blocked public policies that could have reduced the risk of profound climate disaster, like Sandy.
Dr Michael Mann of the Department of Geosciences, University of Massachusetts, plotted global temperature and found that the planet was gradually cooling until 1900, but showing rapid global warming at about the same time the automobile was invented .
With only 24% of the Arctic Ocean now covered with thinning ice, there is little left to cool the Gulf Stream at the end of the summer months. This is a profound decline from over 50% summer ice coverage during the 1970s.
The Northwest Passage opened in 2007. It was impossible to cross the Arctic by boat because the Arctic Ocean used to be covered by ice all year long. Ships can now pass from the Atlantic through the Arctic to the Pacific during summer months. Observable rise in sea level happened as the Arctic ice cap melted during the last century.
- Isabel (2003)
- Ivan (2004)
- Emily (2005)
- Katrina (2005)
- Rita (2005)
- Wilma (2005)
- Dean (2007)
- Felix (2007)
These are just the strongest hurricanes that are ordinarily anticipated just a few times each century.
One interesting trend is that category 5 hurricanes ceased after the Great Recession began in 2007.
The Arctic ice cap normally cools the Gulf Stream, which causes warm water to sink to the bottom of the ocean near Norway. The ocean conveyor belt has maintained a nearly constant climate for over ten thousand years.
Lack of Arctic ice is creating large bodies of hot water in the North Atlantic because declining Arctic ice has slowed down the ocean conveyor belt. Hot water accumulates off the east coast of the US because it is not being consumed in the Arctic during the summer months.
- Temperature . Evaporation
- . . 10C . . . . . . 1mm/day
- . . 15C . . . . . . 2mm/day
- . . 20C . . . . . . 4mm/day
- . . 25C . . . . . . 8mm/day
- . . 30C . . . . . 16mm/day
That evaporating water has to go somewhere.
Evaporation resulting from global warming goes into storm formation. Hurricanes form when ocean temperature exceeds 30C (80F) to a depth of 50 feet.
More warming causes bigger storms as the ocean reaches higher peak temperatures every summer season.
This warming trend has combined with natural climate cycles to magnify hurricane damage.
Hurricanes are the worlds largest weather systems, often spanning over 1,000 miles. Hurricane activity goes through active periods and dormant periods. There are few hurricanes during dormant periods.
- Active - 12 generations ago to present
- Dormant - 25 to 50 generations ago
- Active - 50 to 125 generations ago
- Dormant - 125 to 180 generations ago
- Active 180 to 250 generations ago
One of the surprising trends is that hurricane storm intensity matches up closely with periods of economic prosperity. Periods of hurricane inactivity corresponds with periods of economic collapse .
- President . . . . . Unemployment Change
- Harding (R) . . . .+0.3%/yr (collapse)
- Coolidge (R) . . . . 0.0%/yr (no change)
- Hoover (R) . . . . +2.5%/yr (collapse)
- Roosevelt (D) . . .-0.9%/yr (prosperity)
- Truman (D) . . . . -0.15%/yr (prosperity)
- Eisenhower (R) . +0.3%/yr (collapse)
- Kennedy (D) . . . . 0.0%/yr (prosperity)
- Johnson (D) . . . .-0.4%/yr (prosperity)
- Nixon (R) . . . . . . +0.3%/yr (collapse)
- Ford (R) . . . . . . . +0.9%/yr (collapse)
- Carter (D) . . . . . -0.15%/yr (prosperity)
- Regan (R) . . . . . -0.2%/yr (prosperity)
- Bush I (R) . . . . . +0.5%/yr (collapse)
- Clinton (D) . . . . -0.4%/yr (prosperity)
- Bush II (R) . . . . . 0.2%/yr (collapse)
- Obama (D) . . . .- 0.1%/yr (prosperity)
The connection between global warming and economic prosperity shows an unmistakable link that involves carbon emissions from petroleum and coal combustion.
Hurricane intensity increases as prosperity increases. Hurricane intensity declines when economies collapse.
Perhaps the time has come to disconnect the link between economic prosperity and global climate disaster by pursing a national policy that emphasizes renewable resources and carbon emissions awareness?
 Mann M.E. et al, "Northern Hemisphere Temperatures During the Past Millennium: Inferences, Uncertainties, and Limitations", AGU GRL, v.3.1, 1999
 United States Department of Labor Statistics.