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The dependence of hurricane intensity on climate


Tropical cyclones rank with earthquakes as the major geophysical causes of loss of life and property1. It is therefore of practical as well as scientific interest to estimate the changes in tropical cyclone frequency and intensity that might result from short-term man-induced alterations of the climate2. In this spirit we use a simple Carnot cycle model to estimate the maximum intensity of tropical cyclones under the somewhat warmer conditions expected to result from increased atmospheric CO2 content. Estimates based on August mean conditions over the tropical oceans predicted by a general circulation model with twice the present CO2 content yield a 40–50% increase in the destructive potential of hurricanes.

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Emanuel, K. The dependence of hurricane intensity on climate. Nature 326, 483–485 (1987).

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