Between the tsunami last winter, the recent disasters from Hurricanes Katrina, Rita and Stan, and now the earthquake in Asia, I have to admit I'm starting to feel a little weirded out. Is there an unusual number of natural disasters these days, or have there been other years in history with a comparable number of natural disasters? If we do have an unusually high number of disasters this year, what is the cause?
Posts: 2277 | Location: In between | Registered: 06-03-02
I am sure that there are some who will blame Clinton.
No, I don't remember any single year that had so many natural disasters of such proportions. However, to think that has any special meaning would indicate that you would think that a year that had very few or none was also some type of indication of something. Quite possibly, Global Warming may have some effect on the intensity of hurricanes, but it seems to me that very little that man can do would cause earthquakes.
Hurricanes in the north Atlantic go in cycles, and the 70s, 80s, and early 90s were a lull. We entered one of the upswings at about the midpoint of the last decade, and they've been building since then. Given past trends, we've got another two decades or so before we enter another period of low activity.
Global warming certainly has the potential to strengthen hurricanes. Hurricanes gather strength from warm water (Katrina's strength was in part due to its passing over a warm section of the Gulf); the cycle in the north Atlantic is due to changes in the temperature of the ocean; but (and it's a big but), it seems most experts don't think that global warming is having a substantial impact on storms in the north Atlantic yet. Although there is some evidence for an increase in worldwide hurricane strength already, even the authors caution that more research is needed.
According to a recent article on livescience.com, Global Warming is almsot definitely playing an impact - with a rising sea temperature, we are currently experiencing a sudden increase in the size, strength, and number of hurricanes - with Hurricane Wilms, we have tied the previous record for hurricanes in a season, but there is still a long time until the end of hurricane season - it is almost certain that for the first time, we will use the Greek alphabet to name the next hurricanes (Hurricane Alpha, Hurricane Beta, Hurricane Gamma, etc.)
As for the tsunami, it was a freak event that occured because of a severe earthquake in the ring of fire - a very seismically active area. To my (limited) knowledge, earthquakes and tsunamis are not triggered or enhanced by global warming.
The good thing about global Warming and hurricanes? When enough ice melts into the oceans, and cools it sufficiently, we shall see a decrease in the size, strength, and number of hurricanes.
Another theory about their sudden enhancement is not global warming, but rather the time of the Sun Spot cycle we are in.