Atlantic hurricane trends linked to climate change

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Abstract

Increases in key measures of Atlantic hurricane activity over recent decades are believed to reflect, in large part, contemporaneous increases in tropical Atlantic warmth [e.g., Emanuel, 2005]. Some recent studies [e.g., Goldenberg et al., 2001] have attributed these increases to a natural climate cycle termed the Atlantic Multidecadal Oscillation (AMO), while other studies suggest that climate change may instead be playing the dominant role [Emanuel, 2005; Webster et al., 2005].

Using a formal statistical analysis to separate the estimated influences of anthropogenic climate change from possible natural cyclical influences, this article presents results indicating that anthropogenic factors are likely responsible for long-term trends in tropical Atlantic warmth and tropical cyclone activity. In addition, this analysis indicates that late twentieth century tropospheric aerosol cooling has offset a substantial fraction of anthropogenic warming in the region and has thus likely suppressed even greater potential increases in tropical cyclone activity.

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