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Climate change fueling more hurricanes: Expert


MONTE CARLO, Monaco—A review of the scientific research into climate change finds an emerging consensus that rising sea surface temperatures may be increasing the intensity of Atlantic hurricanes.

Prof. Bill McGuire, director of the Benfield Hazard Research Centre at University College London, says there is a "massive debate" in the scientific community on whether climate change is driving tropical cyclone activity.

While there are detractors, research papers over the last 12 months point to a link between sea temperatures and an increasing number of Category 3 hurricanes, he said.

"It has become apparent, and it is my personal view as well, that we are now seeing a climate change signal in increasingly powerful storms," said Prof. McGuire in an interview Tuesday at the Rendez-Vous de Septembre in Monte Carlo.

The signs are "quite worrying," since there has been detected a 0.6 degree Celsius rise in sea temperature over the 20th century, "so what are we going to see when temperatures are up 2, 3, 4 degrees or more in the next hundred years?" he asked.

As the warming trend continues, the prospects for "progressively increased losses ... are high," he added.

The climate change debate is a key part of the 2006 edition of the Hazard & Risk Science Review, a 39-page publication released Tuesday in Monte Carlo. Researched and edited by Prof. McGuire, the review provides a digest of more than 75 scientific research papers published in the last year on various natural hazards.

In its third edition, the review summarizes the research into atmospheric hazards since last year's record Atlantic hurricane season. It also reviews a proposal for the use of an alternative system for categorizing hurricanes, which is said to offer a better means of predicting their disaster potential.