Kerry Emanuel, a leading analyst of hurricane behavior at MIT, has for years taken the position that hurricanes in the 21st century will be stronger, thanks to the global warming, but not necessarily more frequent. In fact, back in 2006, he published a paper arguing that no decadal shift could be detected in frequency of tropical cyclone generation, casting doubt on the idea.
So when now he he publishes a study arguing that this century we will see greater numbers of hurricanes, as well as stronger ones, that's big news in the field. Even if it is mostly, near as I can tell, based on advances in modeling.
A new study by Kerry Emanuel, a prominent hurricane researcher at MIT, found that contrary to previous findings, tropical cyclones are likely to become both stronger and more frequent in the years to come, especially in the western North Pacific, where storms can devastate the heavily populated coastlines of Asian nations. Emanuel's research showed the same holds true for the North Atlantic, where about 12 percent of the world's tropical cyclones spin each year.
Emanuel's study casts doubt on what had been the consensus view of most climate scientists — that in most ocean basins, tropical cyclones are likely to become less frequent as the world warms, but that the storms that do occur are likely to contain stronger winds and heavier rains. That view was expressed most recently in a 2012 report from the U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.
Full study is not yet available: Will be interesting to see response from Judith Curry and the natural variability crowd.