New findings by NOAA scientists challenge current theories that say increases in hurricane intensity and development may be linked to global warming. New findings reported in a study by scientists at the NOAA Geophysical Fluid Dynamics Laboratory in Princeton, N.J., and the Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science at the University of Miami indicate that just the opposite may be true. Changes in vertical wind shear as a consequence of global warming may actually inhibit hurricane development and intensity.
“Wind shear is one of the dominant controls of hurricane activity, and the (21st century climate) models project substantial increases in the Atlantic,â€ according to Gabriel Vecchi, lead author of the paper. “Based on historical relationships, the impact of the projected wind shear change could be comparable in magnitude as that of the warming oceans â€” with the opposite effect,â€ he said. The authors of the report identified a “robust increaseâ€ in wind shear over the tropical Atlantic and East Pacific attributable to global warming. Report co-author Brian Soden said, “This study does not in any way undermine the widespread consensus in the scientific community about the reality of global warming. In fact the (wind) shear changes are driven by global warming.â€