Media Claims Hurricanes Have Become More Frequent And Intense

(Photo by Sean Rayford/Getty Images)

Nicole Silverio Media Reporter
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The mainstream media has claimed that hurricanes have grown more frequent and intense in recent years, though scientists have found no major changes in hurricane activity in over a century.

With the landfall of Hurricane Ian in Florida, the media has repeatedly instilled fear over the impacts of climate change and its alleged worsening effects on the Category 4 storm. Media outlets including The Washington Post, AP News, Miami Herald and Reuters have immediately framed their coverage around the climate crisis and its role in intensifying storms.

The Washington Post published a story on Thursday titled, “How climate change is rapidly fueling super hurricanes.” The Guardian issued a piece called, “Hurricane Ian is no anomaly. The climate crisis is making storms more powerful,” and the Miami Herald published an editorial Saturday titled, “No, it’s not too soon. After Hurricane Ian, it’s time to say ‘climate change,’ Gov. DeSantis.”

Additionally, Axios published a piece with the headline, “Hurricane Ian’s climate warning”  and NPR posted the piece, “How climate change is making storms such as Hurricane Ian stronger.”

An overview of current research results from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) contradicts the claims of several media outlets. As the media warns of climate change contributing to strong hurricanes, NOAA said that landfalling hurricanes have shown a negative trend from the late 19th century to the early 20th century. (RELATED: Top Biden Official Responds After Don Lemon Asks If Hurricane Ian Can Be Blamed On Climate Change) 

A Financial Times article showed a graph of hurricane detection improving and reported that hurricanes were on the rise. However, NOAA said there has not been a “statistically significant” uptick in hurricanes from 1878-2006.

“If greenhouse warming causes a substantial increase in Atlantic hurricane activity, then the observed century scale increase in tropical Atlantic SSTs since the late 1800s should have produced a long-term rise in measures of Atlantic hurricanes activity, similar to that seen for global temperature, for example,” NOAA noted.

NOAA also said there has not been a major change in the intensity of hurricanes since the 1800’s, though Category 4 and 5 storms have become more prominent since the 1940s. They concluded that greenhouse gas emissions and global warming have not been a major factor in the frequency or intensity of storms.

“We conclude that the data do not provide compelling evidence for a substantial greenhouse warming-induced century-scale increase in: frequency of tropical storms, hurricanes, or major hurricanes, or in the proportion of hurricanes that become major hurricanes.”

NOAA further predicts that there will be a 25% decrease in the number of Atlantic hurricanes and tropical storms, but the intensity will likely rise by about 5% throughout the 21st century.

Nature communications also concluded in a study on recorded increases in Atlantic hurricanes, that increases in hurricane frequency are “consistent with changes in observing practices and not likely a true climate trend.” News outlets, however, have used these graphics to report that the frequency has drastically risen in recent years.

Tom Knutson, senior scientist at NOAA, said it is “difficult” to attribute climate change to Hurricane Ian since it is just one sample of storms.

“It is difficult to attribute all of the characteristics of individual storms like Ian to climate change,” he said. “Ian is just one case out of the ‘population’ or one sample of the current statistical characteristics of storms.”