I submitted this as a story but it was rejected, in favor of the Siberian methane and the Stirling array stories, which were also very interesting and perhaps more emotive. I'm posting it here because it's nevertheless a high-impact story -- climate change data is getting to be very accurate and very sound. The results of this development will someday allow us to see with great detail how hurricane weather is affected by climate change, and the data that can be covered by the method described looks like it can reach back to the "little ice age" from 1400-1800, so we may be able to hypothesize what the edge triggers were in both cases. Using that, we may be able to predict what's in store for us as we continue to use the atmosphere as a convenient dumping ground for increasing concentrations of CO2.
The other thing this can help predict is the actual storm tracks of ancient hurricanes, so that our storm path probability models can be improved for future hurricanes.
from the hurricane-history-grows-on-trees dept.
Physorg has an update on the effort to determine whether or not hurricane activity is worsening in contrast to prior centuries, as scientists from the University of Tennessee, Knoxville have improved on a technique to draw hundreds of years of high resolution climate data out of old pine trees. The naughty cyclones drop rainwater devoid of a telltale isotope, O-18, which can then be measured in tree rings. The method matches the historic weather record with uncanny accuracy.
...and (I would add today), so it is can be relied upon to make solid predictions about hurricane data hundreds of years before any records were kept.