New scientific evidence highlights link between climate change and cyclone intensity
MEDIA RELEASE – Anthony Albanese MP
19 September 2005
For years scientists have warned that global warming, induced by humans, could increase the number of destructive tropical cyclones.
A new study published in distinguished journal Science has demonstrated that recent ocean warming has fuelled more destructive tropical cyclones, by analysing cyclone trends over the past 30 years.
Strong scientific evidence of the link between tropical cyclones and hurricanes and climate change should give the Howard government a stern wake-up call for more action to avoid dangerous climate change.
Scientists have explained that sustained levels of warm sea surface temperatures provide the fuel for strong wind and rain within tropical cyclones. For example, it has been shown that the devastating effects of Hurricane Katrina was driven by warmer than usual sea surface temperatures in the Gulf of Mexico.
Most disturbingly this latest study shows the south west Pacific Ocean has received more than double the number of category 4 and 5 cyclones in the past decade, the region that directly affects north-eastern Australia.
A recent government report on Climate Change Risk and Vulnerability points out that cyclone intensities could increase by 20% by 2050 and make coastal cities like Darwin, Cairns and Townsville extremely vulnerable.
The Australian trend of moving north and to the coast means the Australian community’s exposure to these destructive cyclones will continue to increase.
The devastating effects of Hurricane Katrina illustrate the massive economic, social and environmental consequences of powerful tropical cyclones.
The over-whelming scientific evidence should focus the government’s attention to act against further climate change.
By not taking action to avoid dangerous climate change the Howard government is increasing the risk of severe damage to Australia’s northern coastlines by destructive tropical cyclones.