The possibility that warming conditions may cause storms to become stronger has generated debate among climate and weather experts, particularly in the wake of the Hurricane Katrina disaster.
In the new case, Nature said weather experts at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration - part of the Commerce Department - in February set up a seven-member panel to prepare a consensus report on the views of agency scientists about global warming and hurricanes.
According to Nature, a draft of the statement said that warming may be having an effect.
In May, when the report was expected to be released, panel chair Ants Leetmaa received an e-mail from a Commerce official saying the report needed to be made less technical and was not to be released, Nature reported.
OK, that's the "scandal" portion of the report. The NOAA report is "a consensus report on the views of agency scientists." Opinions, in other words.
[Nature] said in its online report that the study was merely a discussion of the current state of hurricane science and did not contain any policy or position statements.
A series of studies over the past year or so have shown an increase in the power of hurricanes in the Atlantic and Pacific oceans, a strengthening that many storm experts say is tied to rising sea-surface temperatures.
Just two weeks ago, researchers said that most of the increase in ocean temperature that feeds more intense hurricanes is a result of human-induced global warming, a study one researcher said "closes the loop" between climate change and powerful storms like Katrina.
And last Thursday came this story:Despite the long term warming trend seen around the globe, the oceans have cooled in the last three years, scientists announced today.
The temperature drop, a small fraction of the total warming seen in the last 48 years, suggests that global warming trends can sometimes take little dips.
In the last century, Earth's temperature has risen about 1 degree Fahrenheit (0.56 degrees Celsius). Most scientists agree that much of the warming in the past 50 years has been fueled by the burning of fossil fuels and other human activities.
Of course, there's no mention of how much the average temperature of the oceans have risen or fallen. With a single degree Fahrenheit rise in the average air temperature I would bet that the water temperature has only risen a fraction of that. Why? Because solar energy heats water more thoroughly than heat transference from the air. You can prove that for yourself by observing the amount of snow that melts in the winter when the weather's cloudy and warm versus sunny and cool...and I'm not talking about the streets and sidewalks where the sun's energy heats the pavement. The sun's heat is a much greater contributor to the ocean's temperature (and to snow melting) than the transference of heat from air to the water.
But, who the heck knows? There's another report from last year that raises concerns about a mini Ice Age in Europe because the Gulf Stream is slacking off due to global warming. Gad!