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Hurricane season ending, but climate change questions remain

11:55 AM, Nov 29, 2012   |    comments
Aerial view of Hurricane Sandy.
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Fort Myers, Florida (News-Press) -- Depending on how you look at it, the 2012 hurricane season is either a dark harbinger of things to come or simply a continuation of the active tropical cyclone cycle that dates back almost 20 years.

With 19 named storms, the 2012 season, which ends Friday, ties 2011, 2010, 1995 and 1887 as the third most-active season on record: 10 storms this season became hurricanes, and one became a major hurricane. The average is 12 named storms, six hurricanes and three major hurricanes.

"When you look at the statistics, with records going back to 1851, having three of the top five active seasons in the past three years is extremely unlikely to happen by chance," said Jeff Masters, chief meteorologist for Weather Underground. "The odds are that the climate has changed in the Atlantic to make it happen."

In other words, tropical cyclones (tropical depressions, tropical storms and hurricanes) feed on warm sea surface temperatures, and as the warming climate warms the tropical Atlantic, the number of tropical cyclones will increase.

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