Washington Global warming isn't to blame for the recent jump in hurricanes in the Atlantic, concludes a study by a prominent federal scientist whose position has shifted on the subject.
Not only that, warmer temperatures will actually reduce the number of hurricanes in the Atlantic and those making landfall, research meteorologist Tom Knutson reported in a study released Sunday.
In the past, Knutson has raised concerns about the effects of climate change on storms. His new paper has the potential to heat up a simmering debate among meteorologists about current and future effects of global warming in the Atlantic.
Many climate change experts have tied the rise of hurricanes in recent years to global warming and hotter waters that fuel them.
Another group of experts, those who study hurricanes and who are more often skeptical about global warming, say there is no link. They attribute the recent increase to a natural multidecade cycle.
What makes this study different is Knutson, a meteorologist with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's fluid dynamics lab in Princeton, N.J.
He has warned about the harmful effects of climate change and has even complained in the past about being censored by the Bush administration on past studies on the dangers of global warming.
He said his new study, based on a computer model, argues "against the notion that we've already seen a really dramatic increase in Atlantic hurricane activity resulting from greenhouse warming."
The study, published online Sunday in the journal Nature Geoscience, predicts that by the end of the century the number of hurricanes in the Atlantic will fall by 18 percent.