In a 2005 paper published just weeks before Hurricane Katrina, Kerry Emanuel of MIT wrote that there appeared to be a statistical link between climate change and hurricane intensity, with warmer temperatures leading to stronger storms. Now, using new models of the atmosphere, Emanuel and colleagues say the link may not be so clear after all.
Emanuel stresses that the new work does not disprove a connection between hurricanes and global warming — it just means that the relationship is complicated.
"The idea that there is no connection between hurricanes and global warming, that's not supported," he says.
Emanuel, who is a professor of atmospheric science at MIT, explains what the new findings mean for hurricane and climate researchers.