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Isabel Just the Start

Meteorologists think Hurricane Isabel may be just the first of a long string of even bigger hurricanes that may keep coming for at least a decade. "We're not talking about a minor little increase," says Stanley Goldenberg of NOAA, "but an overall doubling of major hurricane activity."

J. Madeleine Nash writes in Time Magazine online that starting in 1995, the corridor of warm water that lies between the Cape Verde Islands and Central America has been producing about four big storms a year, as compared with two or less in the preceding three decades. Meteorologist William Gray says, "the Atlantic is a marginal area for tropical storms. When global conditions are not right, it sees very few, and when they are, it sees quite a lot."

Hurricane energy is related to the surface temperature of the ocean. Despite Isabel's force, scientists say it could have been worse, since the East Coast ocean temperature was unusually cold this year, meaning the hurricane didn't become as powerful as it could have. This could be a result of global warming, which causes the warm Gulf Stream in the Atlantic to drop down, due to an influx of freshwater from melting glaciers.

Hurricane expert Kerry Emanuel doesn't think we can predict future hurricanes and says, "We really don't have the foggiest idea why hurricane formation in the Atlantic was inactive in the '70s, '80s and '90s and so active in the '40s, '50s and early '60s. So if someone says there'll be more hurricanes than normal over the next 10 years, and someone else says there'll be fewer, each has a 50% chance of being right."

Is it possible for a civilization to undergo so much destruction that it become almost totally forgotten?

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