Abnormally High Temperatures in Gulf of Mexico Fueling Hurricane Ike

For Immediate Release

Greenpeace
Contact: 

Mike Crocker, Greenpeace Media Officer, 202-215-8989; Glenn Hurowitz, Greenpeace Media Director, 202-552-1828

Abnormally High Temperatures in Gulf of Mexico Fueling Hurricane Ike

New Studies Warn of Global Warming-Hurricane Link

WASHINGTON - Higher than average Gulf of Mexico sea surface
temperatures are currently fueling Hurricane Ike's increasing size and
power and potentially large storm surge damage. Higher temperatures are
part of a long-term trend that new scientific studies warn is
intensifying the effects of major Atlantic storms like Ike.

One of those studies, published last week in the journal Nature, found
that warming seas are providing more energy to Atlantic Ocean
hurricanes like Hurricane Ike, increasing their size and the strength
of their winds (see below). Prior studies have shown that warming is
producing increased rainfall, severe flooding and storm surge during
big storms.

"The huge costs of extreme weather and flooding from global warming far
outweigh any hypothetical benefits from offshore drilling," said Kert
Davies, Greenpeace Research Director.  "Hurricane Ike shows the
vulnerability caused by our oil addiction. If Congress is really
interested in helping Americans, it will free us from our reliance on
oil by increasing automobile fuel efficiency and investing in clean
energy sources like wind and solar."

Even as global warming intensifies large storms like Hurricane Ike, it
is also driving sea level rise, making coastal communities and
infrastructure like oil rigs and refineries more vulnerable to storm
surge. Today's storm surge predictions for Hurricane Ike will put major
oil refineries and chemical plants at risk.

Links to Recent Science:

1. Warming seas make strong storms stronger, according to new study in Nature.
Elsner, James; Kossin, James P.; Jagger, Thomas H. "The increasing
intensity of the strongest tropical cyclones." Nature. 455, 92-95
September 4, 2008. http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/v455/n7209/abs/nature07234.html

2. New studies in Science and Nature sharply increase sea level rise projections
Pfeffer, W.T., J.T. Harper, S. O'Neel. "Kinematic Constraints on
Glacier Contributions to 21st-Century Sea-Level Rise" Science 5
September 2008:
Vol. 321. no. 5894, pp. 1340 - 1343 (http://sciencenow.sciencemag.org/cgi/content/full/2008/904/1

A paper published in Nature on August 31 found that sea level rise may
be increasing at faster rates based on new paleoclimate research.
Evidence from a prehistoric mass of glacier ice known as the Laurentide
ice sheet, which existed in climatic conditions similar to that of
today, indicates that Greenland could undergo large changes faster than
previously expected, raising sea levels 1.3 m (4.3 ft) by 2100.

"We conclude that we could be grossly underestimating how much the
Greenland ice sheet could melt by the end of this century," said Anders
Carlson, a paleoclimatologist at the University of Wisconsin-Madison
and the lead author of the study.

Carlson, Anders E. et. al. "Rapid early Holocene deglaciation of the
Laurentide ice sheet" Nature Geoscience  p. 620 - 624, 2008 (http://www.nature.com/climate/2008/0809/full/climate.2008.88.html)

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