National Geographic reports on a new study in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences that suggests that climatic warming could actually reduce the likelihood that hurricanes make landfall along the Atlantic Coast. Here’s the abstract:
Superstorm Sandy ravaged the eastern seaboard of the United States, costing a great number of lives and billions of dollars in damage. Whether events like Sandy will become more frequent as anthropogenic greenhouse gases continue to increase remains an open and complex question. Here we consider whether the persistent large-scale atmospheric patterns that steered Sandy onto the coast will become more frequent in the coming decades. Using the Coupled Model Intercomparison Project, phase 5 multimodel ensemble, we demonstrate that climate models consistently project a decrease in the frequency and persistence of the westward flow that led to Sandy’s unprecedented track, implying that future atmospheric conditions are less likely than at present to propel storms westward into the coast.
The NatGeo story notes that not all scientists are convinced. It is worth noting, however, that neither landfall frequency nor hurricane intensity in the U.S. increased over the past century, as Roger Pielke Jr. recently testified.
UPDATE: At DotEarth Andrew Revkin reports that the IPCC seems to be backing off claims of a potential connection between hurricane trends and anthropogenic contributions to climate change.