Tuesday, January 17, 2012

New model finds climate change could expose North America, East Asia and the Caribbean to costly hurricane damage

PhysOrg: Researchers from MIT and Yale University have found that coastal regions of North America and the Caribbean, as well as East Asia, are most at risk for hurricane damage — a finding that may not surprise residents of such hurricane-prone communities. However, the researchers say by the year 2100, two factors could more than quadruple the economic damages caused by tropical storms in such regions and around the world: growing income and global warming.

In a paper published this week in Nature Climate Change, researchers developed a model to predict hurricanes around the world, looking at how hurricane activity might change in the next 100 years both with and without climate change.

Even in a world without climate change, where rates of greenhouse gas emissions remain stable, the researchers found that annual economic damages from hurricanes could double in the next century: Global population is expected to reach 9 billion by 2100, likely leading to more development along hurricane-prone coastlines. Given such growth, the researchers projected that worldwide annual damage from hurricanes — currently $26 billion — could increase to $56 billion in the next century.

Under a similar economic scenario, but with the added factor of climate change, the team found that annual hurricane damage could quadruple to $109 billion by 2100. According to the researchers’ model, proliferating greenhouse gases would likely increase the incidence of severe tropical cyclones and hurricanes, which would increase storm-related damage....

Hurricane Isabel in 2003, 400 miles north of Puerto Rico

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