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Storms like Katrina could be more common

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It may not feel like it as we remember the lives lost and the destruction of Hurricane Katrina, but in the future, storms like Katrina may be more common. Katrina, Wilma, and now Dean are just some of the recent super-sized Atlantic hurricanes. While those who endure these storms hope things will calm back down, scientists are finding this surge may actually be a return to normal historical activity. James Elsner with Florida State University said, "There are periods in which these extreme storms, the Dean-like and the Andrew-like storms, are more frequent, and that is, uh, that is a scary proposition." Writing in the journal "Nature," Elsner says big hurricanes wash sand into coastal lakes. "This sand then sits on the bottom of the lake and over time the lake also deposits organic material on top of that sand layer." He says core samples of those lakes show that the last hundred years experienced fewer major hurricanes in the Atlantic than in previous centuries. Elsner said, "Instead of one or two Andrews in 100 years, we see four or five Andrews in 100 years -- and that's a significant difference." The research has been going on for several years, and new samples are still being taken. But Elsner says based on this new view of the past, scenes like these may unfortunately be more common in the future. The researchers are now also using carbon dating to help tell when ancient storms hit.

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