Humans, not nature, are the cause of changes in Atlantic hurricane cycles, new study finds
It's well known in science that for more than a century hurricane activity in the Atlantic Ocean has oscillated between active and inactive periods, each lasting a few decades. For the past couple of decades, meteorologists and climate scientists have believed that this ebb and flow was due to a natural warming and cooling cycle built into the climate system called the Atlantic Multidecadal Oscillation, or AMO.
The term was coined in the year 2000 by world-renowned climate scientist Dr. Michael Mann, distinguished professor of atmospheric science at Penn State University and author of the new book "The New Climate War." The concept of the AMO has become ubiquitous in explanations and forecasts of active or inactive hurricane seasons.
The image below, from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), shows how hurricane activity seems to flow in roughly 60-year waves — active for around 30 years when the Atlantic in its warm phase and inactive for around 30 years when in the cool phase.
But today, in a newly released paper in the journal Science, the Atlantic Multidecadal Oscillation may have been dealt a deadly blow — by the very man who named it. Mann now concludes the AMO is very likely an artifact of climate change, driven by "human forcing" from rising carbon emissions in the modern era and "natural forcing" due to massive volcanic eruptions in pre-industrial times.
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