Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Climate change influence on typhoons uncertain

IRIN: When Typhoon Bopha, one of the strongest storms to hit the western Pacific in recent memory, slammed into the Philippine island of Mindanao last year, there was much speculation in the media about the growing influence of climate change.  But science is still uncertain about whether atmosphere-warming greenhouse gas emissions have caused a detectable change in cyclonic activity.

This was reported by the UN Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (UNESCAP)/World Meteorological Organization (WMO) Typhoon Committee in a new assessment considering the western North Pacific Ocean basin.

The tropical cyclone activity in this region is the most intense of any basin in the world. Cyclonic activity provides about 11 percent of the total rainfall in that part of the basin, and the storms - which are known as typhoons in this part of the world - have caused substantial damage and death.

The Typhoon Committee that initiated the assessment is currently composed of 14 members: Cambodia; China; Democratic People’s Republic of Korea; Hong Kong, China; Japan; Lao People’s Democratic Republic; Macao, China; Malaysia; the Philippines; Republic of Korea; Singapore; Thailand; Socialist Republic of Vietnam; and the United States of America.

Their findings are in line with the 2012 Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change's (IPCC) special report on Managing the Risks of Extreme Events and Disasters to Advance Climate Change Adaptation (SREX). Scientists familiar with the SREX review said that researchers were uncertain how tropical cyclones might have changed since pre-industrial times because of lack of data, the questionable quality of older data, and a limited understanding of the links between global climate change and tropical cyclone activity....

Typhoon Nuri in 2008, from NASA

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