Long Term Trends in Atlantic Hurricane Activity

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By Paul Homewood

While the left-wing media and politicians have been quick to blame Hurricane Ian on global warming, the facts disagree, as this study from last year showed:


The authors are acknowledged as leading experts on Atlantic hurricanes; Landsea for instance works for the National Hurricane Center, while Knutson is at NOAA’s Geophysical Fluid Dynamics Laboratory.

Their study can be summarised by the following graphs:

The top two graphs are for recorded US landfalling hurricanes, a) all and b) major, and the bottom two track Atlantic basin hurricanes.

It is abundantly clear that there are no long term trends in either all hurricanes or major ones that have made US landfall. However there appears to be a strong increase in Atlantic basin ones. Why should this be?

As the paper makes clear, the difference is not a real one, but merely the result of changing observation practices. It is reckoned that all US hurricanes have been counted since around 1900, but many hurricanes were missed out in the mid-Atlantic prior to satellite observations began in earnest in the 1980s.

When these missing hurricanes are allowed for, as in Fig 2, that increasing trend disappears. There is still a noticeable increase, particularly in major hurricanes since the 1960-90 period, which was an unusually quiet era. The authors speculate that this was partly due to the cold phase of the Atlantic Multidecadal Oscillation, and partly to aerosol-induced global cooling.

Whatever the cause, it is clear that the level of hurricane activity in recent decades is little different to prior periods.

Figure 4 addresses the proportion of major hurricanes to overall totals in the N Atlantic.

After allowing for missing hurricanes, the black line, current ratios are similar to the 1900-60 average:

It must be emphasised that this study contains nothing new or particularly controversial. Many studies in recent years have been undertaken, using a variety of approaches, and all have come to similar conclusions.


September 30, 2022

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