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Nature. 2005 Dec 22;438(7071):E11; discussion E13.

Meteorology: are there trends in hurricane destruction?

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  • 1Center for Science and Technology Policy Research, University of Colorado, Campus Box 488, Boulder, Colorado 80309-0488, USA.


Since the record impact of Hurricane Katrina, attention has focused on understanding trends in hurricanes and their destructive potential. Emanuel reports a marked increase in the potential destructiveness of hurricanes based on identification of a trend in an accumulated annual index of power dissipation in the North Atlantic and western North Pacific since the 1970s. If hurricanes are indeed becoming more destructive over time, then this trend should manifest itself in more destruction. However, my analysis of a long-term data set of hurricane losses in the United States shows no upward trend once the data are normalized to remove the effects of societal changes.

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