Global Hurricane Activity Lowest in 30 Years

Published August 1, 2009

Global hurricane activity over the past two years fell to its lowest level in at least 30 years, according to a researcher at the Florida State University Center for Ocean-Atmosphere Prediction Studies.

The news drives another nail in the coffin of the myth that global warming is causing an increase in hurricane activity and intensity.

“Global hurricane activity has continued to sink to levels not seen since the 1970s,” researcher Ryan Maue noted on the Web page of meteorologist Anthony Watts.

Not only is the frequency of hurricane activity at multi-decade lows, but overall global hurricane energy is also at its lowest in at least 30 years.

“Even more astounding, … global hurricane energy has sunk to 30-year lows, at the least,” Maue observed.

Better Storm Detection

The reason Maue states hurricane activity is “at least” at a 30-year low is because technology in past decades was not able to identify as many hurricanes and tropical storms, especially in the middle of the world’s oceans, as can be identified today.

As a result, hurricane activity before and during the 1970s may have been more frequent and intense than indicated by the data, which means 1970s hurricane activity may also have exceeded that of recent years.

Beyond the North Atlantic

Noting Al Gore has dropped some of his most exaggerated and implausible hurricane claims, Maue explained even the heightened North Atlantic hurricane activity of earlier this decade did not change the global trends of decreasing hurricane activity.

“The North Atlantic only represents 1/10 to 1/8 of global hurricane energy output,” Maue noted, but it “demands disproportionate media attention” because of the concentration of population on America’s East Coast.

And while hurricane activity beyond the North Atlantic has been quiet in recent years, “global ACE [accumulated cyclone energy] had crashed due to two consecutive years of well-below average Northern Hemisphere hurricane activity” in the past two years, noted Maue.

“I would say right now as a field we don’t know enough about how global warming will impact hurricanes or even the storm frequency to even say that anything currently observed is related to global warming or not,” said University of Illinois assistant professor of meteorology Stephen Nesbitt.

“As you know, there is natural climate variability and human-induced variability, and currently we don’t have a mechanism to tell the difference,” Nesbitt said.

Maue’s report follows other recent studies documenting a decline in global hurricane activity as temperatures have risen, contradicting global warming alarmists’ assertion hurricanes are becoming more frequent because of global warming.

Little Ice Age Storminess

In the February 2009 issue of Quaternary Journal, a team of British scientists reported North Atlantic storm activity affecting Western Europe peaked during the years 1500 to 1900, during the Little Ice Age, not during recent decades.

Notably, the study found, as temperatures rose during the twentieth century, North Atlantic storms affecting Western Europe became less frequent and intense.

Pacific Typhoons Declining

Similarly, a team of Chinese scientists reported in the June 2008 Journal of Tropical Meteorology typhoons affecting China have been declining as temperatures have risen.

“The frequency of affecting typhoons has been declining since 1951 at a rate of 0.9 typhoon per decade” and “the past 10 years is the time that sees the least frequency,” the scientists reported.

Importantly, the largest decline has been in the frequency of the most devastating storms. According to the scientists, “super-typhoons have the largest drop in the frequency, showing a tendency of decreasing 0.7 typhoon per decade.”

Said Nesbitt, “The Pacific over the last few years has had very few tropical cyclones. It’s too early to tell how even storms in our hemisphere are related to storms on the other side of the globe. We don’t have the data or models that can simulate that kind of impact.

“More research is needed to try to tear apart the complicated interactions between global warming and weather, because they are caused by very different mechanisms,” Nesbitt concluded.

Krystle Russin ([email protected]) writes from Texas.