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Storm Norms: Caribbean corals and sediments yield clues to hurricane frequency

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1:03pm, June 5, 2007

The recent spike in hurricane activity in the North Atlantic—a trend that some scientists blame on climate change—actually reflects a return to normal frequency after a lull in the 1970s and 1980s, a new analysis confirms.

Between 1995 and 2005, meteorologists recorded an annual average of 4.1 category-3-or-stronger hurricanes in the North Atlantic and the Caribbean. Such hurricanes exhibit steady wind speeds exceeding 178 kilometers per hour. From 1971 through 1994, however, an average of only 1.5 such hurricanes swept through the same region each year, says K. Halimeda Kilbourne, a paleoclimatologist with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration in Boulder, Colo.

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