Prehistoric hurricane spotting

It was a dark and stormy night. 3000 years ago. We think. Maybe

By Andrew Leonard
Published February 21, 2008 6:29PM (EST)

Word of the day: Paleotempestology

The study of prehistoric tropical cyclones, via various geological "proxies" such as flood-generated sedimentary structures.

Coined by M.I.T. hurricane scientist Kerry Emanuel, the relevance of such research is in determining whether climate change is causing an increased incidence of extreme storm events as compared to the historical record.

But according to Real Climate, the practice of paleotempestology is not easy, and "there is undoubtedly a long way to go before the reconstruction of extreme events (like hurricanes) in the past will be anything more than suggestive."


Andrew Leonard

Andrew Leonard is a staff writer at Salon. On Twitter, @koxinga21.

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Environment Global Warming Globalization How The World Works Hurricanes