Hurricanes feed on warm water, and a study released on Monday shows a link between warmer ocean temperatures and human use of fossil fuels, challenging skeptics who blame them on natural climate cycles.
"Our paper suggests that it's human-induced burning of fossil fuels that have altered the levels of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere that have led to this warming in regions where Atlantic and Pacific hurricanes form," said Benjamin Santer, a climate scientist and co-author of an article in this week's Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
Santer and his colleagues focused on these hurricane zones, and used computer models to figure out what the world would have been like if the Industrial Revolution had never happened, reports Reuters.
According to Houston Chronicle, after Hurricane Katrina slammed the Gulf Coast and became the costliest natural disaster in U.S. history, some Americans began viewing monster hurricanes as the greatest threat posed by a warming world.
Jesse Jackson visited Katrina's evacuees at the Astrodome and declared that "Global warming is no longer academic, global warming is real." The promotional poster for Al Gore's global warming movie, An Inconvenient Truth, is dominated by a Katrina-like hurricane swirling out of a smokestack.
And at the end of 2005 - the hottest year on record - the Atlantic basin had just wrapped up its most active hurricane season in recorded history.
There was just one problem: While nearly all scientists agreed Earth has warmed considerably in the last century, there was no consensus on whether that warming world was causing more and stronger hurricanes to form.
Now some of those scientists have changed their minds, saying a consensus has indeed emerged.
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