This handout satellite image provided by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), shows Category 3 Hurricane Irene on August 25, 2011 in the Caribbean Sea. (Photo by NOAA via Getty Images)
Inventive new research has found a surprising way of investigating the relationship between hurricanes and climate change — by examining the history of Spanish shipwrecks in the Caribbean Sea during a planetary cool period in the late 17th and 18th century.
The result, based on comparisons between tree rings from the Florida Keys and a historical record of shipwrecks, finds that there were far fewer hurricanes, or tropical cyclones, from 1645 through 1715, when the planet went through what is called the “Maunder Minimum.” This was an era in which very low sunspot activity correlated with relatively cooler temperatures here on the Earth (the Maunder Minimum was part of a cooler period known to climate history as the “Little…
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