My latest story, in Miller-McCune Magazine, is about research geared towards better understanding the history of hurricanes and, therefore, better being able to use computer models to predict future hurricanes. It’s an important field, especially because so many countries have built so extensively along their threatened coasts.
There’s a general consensus among scientists, even those who question the research, that climate change means hurricanes will increase somewhat in intensity (if not number) over the ensuing decades. That means we can mitigate damages through better planning and preparation.
As the story notes: Last summer, Congress held hearings and called for a national hurricane research initiative similar to one that exists for earthquakes, which have caused only a fraction of the economic losses that hurricanes have in the U.S. in recent years. Nearly 30 million Americans live in coastal areas, from North Carolina to Texas, that are threatened by hurricanes. More than 3,000 people have died since 2003 in hurricanes.
The National Science Board (http://www.nsf.gov/nsb) estimates that from 2002 to 2007, economic losses due to hurricanes totaled $180 billion. According to the Reinsurance Association of America (http://www.reinsurance.org/i4a/pages/index.cfm?pageid=1), insured property exposure is $9 trillion. AIR Worldwide (http://www.air-worldwide.com/), a catastrophe modeling company, estimates that disaster losses will double every decade because of growing residential and commercial density along the coasts.