Monday, March 17, 2008

Increased hurricanes for Mexico and Caribbean?

White sand beaches, tropical rain forests and colorful coral reefs -- southern Mexico would appear to have it all.

But it seems that this area of outstanding natural beauty is also unusually susceptible to danger in the form of costly -- both human and financial -- natural disasters.
This year alone two maximum strength hurricanes passed over the Yucatan peninsula, while extreme floods in the Tabasco and Chiapas regions in October affected half of the region's 2.2 million inhabitants and drew comparisons with the havoc created in the U.S. by Hurricane Katrina.
Both hurricanes and the flood were natural phenomena but scientists and environmental campaigners argue that the force of these devastating disasters is exacerbated by human activity.
The north Atlantic has always been prone to hurricanes. Each season, meteorologists expect the Caribbean and the Gulf of Mexico to experience between 10 and 20 tropical storms between May and the end of November. But in recent years it has been the intensity of these storms that has surprised analysts. In 2005 there were 15 storms classified as hurricanes, seven of which were considered 'major', or category 3 or more according to the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Scale. Some scientists believe this escalation in intensity is down to global warming. "Both observation and theory suggest that hurricanes are becoming more intense as the earth warms," says Kevin Trenberth, Head of the Climate Analysis Section at the National Center for Atmospheric Research in Boulder, Colorado. More >>>