Global warming has made stronger hurricanes, including those in the Atlantic Ocean such as 2005's Katrina, an authoritative panel on climate change has concluded for the first time, a participant in the deliberations said Thursday.
During marathon meetings here, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change approved language that said an increase in hurricane and tropical cyclone strength since 1970 "more likely than not" can be attributed to man-made global warming, according to the participant who asked not to be identified because the talks were confidential.
The panel did note that the increase in stronger storms differs in various parts of the globe, but that the storms that strike the Americas are global warming-influenced, according to the source.
In 2001, the same panel had said there was not enough evidence to make such a conclusion, but said with warmer weather in the future there would be stronger storms.
This week's report scheduled to be released Friday morning is also a marked departure from a November 2006 statement by the World Meteorological Organization, which helped found the IPCC.
The meteorological organization, after contentious debate, said it could not link past stronger storms to global warming. The debate about whether stronger hurricanes can be linked to global warming has been dividing a scientific community that pretty much united in agreeing that global warming is man-made and a problem, reports AP.
Massachusetts Institute of Technology professor Kerry Emanuel, who pioneered much of the research linking global warming to an uptick in hurricane strength, looked at the original language in an IPCC draft and called it "a pretty strong statement."
"I think we've seen a pretty clear signal in the Atlantic," Emanuel said. The increase in Atlantic hurricane strength "is so beautifully correlated with sea surface there cant be much doubt that there's a relationship with sea surface temperature."
But U.S. National Hurricane Center scientist Christopher Landsea has long disagreed with that premise. While he would not comment on the IPCC decision, Landsea pointed to the meteorological organization's statement last fall.