How does rising atmospheric CO2 affect marine organisms?

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Long-Term Hurricane Records
Elsner, J.B., Liu, K.-B. and Kocher, B.  2000.  Spatial variations in major U.S. hurricane activity: Statistics and a physical mechanism.  Journal of Climate 13: 2293-2305.

What was done
The authors provide a statistical and physical basis for understanding regional variations in major hurricane activity along the U.S. coastline on long timescales; and in doing so, they present data on major hurricane occurrences in 50-year intervals for Bermuda, Jamaica and Puerto Rico.

What was learned
Hurricanes occurred at far lower frequencies in the last half of the 20th century than they did in the preceding five 50-year periods at the three locations studied.  From 1701 to 1850, for example, when the earth was locked in the grip of the Little Ice Age, major hurricane frequency was 2.77 times greater at Bermuda, Jamaica and Puerto Rico than it was from 1951 to 1998; and from 1851 to 1950, when the planet was in transition from Little Ice Age to current conditions, these three locations experienced a mean hurricane frequency that was 2.15 times greater than what was characteristic of 1951 to 1998.

What it means
If the frequency of occurrence of major hurricanes along the eastern seaboard of the U.S. and the Gulf coast states is related to global warming, it is clear from these real-world data that rising temperatures tend to reduce the occurrence of major hurricanes in this region of the Atlantic rather than increase them, which is just the opposite of what is often claimed by those who blithely state that global warming will bring the United States more devastating storms of this nature.

Reviewed 23 August 2000