[Guest post by DRJ]
MIT hurricane expert and global warming proponent Kerry Emanuel wants a do-over:
“One of the most influential scientists behind the theory that global warming has intensified recent hurricane activity says he will reconsider his stand.
The hurricane expert, Kerry Emanuel of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, this week unveiled a novel technique for predicting hurricane activity. The new work suggests that, even in a dramatically warming world, hurricane frequency and intensity may not substantially rise during the next two centuries.
The research, appearing in the March issue of Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society, is all the more remarkable coming from Emanuel, a highly visible leader in his field and long an ardent proponent of a link between global warming and much stronger hurricanes.
His changing views could influence other scientists.
“The results surprised me,” Emanuel said of his work, adding that global warming may still play a role in raising the intensity of hurricanes but what that role is remains far from certain.”
Emanuel had originally concluded global warming would cause more powerful hurricanes or more active hurricane seasons, and his work may have contributed to the image of a hurricane in advertising for Al Gore’s An Inconvenient Truth:
“Among the first to publish was Emanuel, who, just three weeks before Hurricane Katrina’s landfall, published a paper in Nature that concluded a key measurement of the power dissipated by a storm during its lifetime had risen dramatically since the mid-1970s.
In the future, he argued, incredibly active hurricane years such as 2005 would become the norm rather than flukes.
This view, amplified by environmentalists and others concerned about global warming, helped establish in the public’s mind that “super” hurricanes were one of climate change’s most critical threats. A satellite image of a hurricane emanating from a smokestack featured prominently in promotions for Al Gore’s An Inconvenient Truth.”
The articles notes that, after Hurricane Katrina, scientific articles that showed hurricanes were becoming more frequent and intense were highlighted while contrary papers were not:
“After the 2005 hurricane season, a series of other papers were published that appeared to show, among other things, that the most intense hurricanes were becoming more frequent.
What has not been as broadly disseminated, say Pielke and some hurricane scientists, is that other research papers have emerged that suggest global warming has yet to leave an imprint on hurricane activity. One of them, published late last year in Nature, found that warming seas may not increase hurricane intensity.”
Emanuel’s bottom line is “We’ve got a lot of work to do.”
It’s good that Emanuel is willing to revisit this issue – a true idealogue wouldn’t – but instances like this reinforce the perception that some scientists let emotion overrule facts when it comes to global warming.