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Cyclone Larry-"climate change not to blame"

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Joined: 15 Sep 2004
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Cyclone Larry-"climate change not to blame" PostFri Mar 24, 2006 7:19 pm  Reply with quote  


Climate change not to blame for Larry's force

By Deborah Smith and Bellinda Kontominas
March 25, 2006

TROPICAL cyclones will become more intense as the planet heats up, although the ferocity of individual storms such as Cyclone Larry cannot be blamed on global warming, say Australian scientists.

Two new studies have also found that sea levels could rise by up to six metres by 2100 - similar to a period 130,000 years ago - if the pace of climate change is not slowed.

The good news, however, is that Cyclone Larry may have helped save the Great Barrier Reef from disaster by cooling the ocean.

Professor Ove Hoegh-Guldberg, of the University of Queensland, said high water temperatures during summer had contributed to the bleaching of about half the coral in 1000 square kilometres of inshore reef between Mackay and Hervey Bay.

It had been feared more than 60 per cent of the reef could bleach, as in 2002. But the approach of winter and the cyclone meant "the real threat of a major bleaching event has passed", he said.

Last year American researchers published two studies linking recent global warming to increased storm intensity. They showed that in the past 35 years the worldwide incidence of category four and five cyclones and hurricanes almost doubled as ocean waters warmed about half a degree.

Dr Debbie Abbs, of the CSIRO's division of Marine and Atmospheric Research, said these claims were contentious. "And we can't attribute the strength of Larry to climate change."

The scientific consensus, however, was that global warming was expected to increase cyclone intensity, on average, in future because hotter surface waters would feed more energy into the weather systems, she said.

Associate Professor Kevin Walsh, of the University of Melbourne, said it was difficult to predict the cyclone activity for particular regions because it was also influenced by factors such as El Nino and La Nina events.

According to the Bureau of Meteorology, Australia could be experiencing a weak La Nina, which tends to increase the number of tropical cyclones.

Researchers in the US are developing an interactive database on which scientists can record cyclone data to help resolve the link between global warming and storm intensity.
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