Caribbean News Now!

About Us Contact Us

Countries/Territories

Jump to your country or territory of interest

Advertise with us

Reach our daily visitors from around the Caribbean and throughout the world. Click here for rates and placements.

Contribute

Submit news and opinion for publication

Subscribe

Click here to receive our daily regional news headlines by email.

Archives

Click here to browse our extensive archives going back to 2004

Also, for the convenience of our readers and the online community generally, we have reproduced the complete Caribbean Net News archives from 2004 to 2010 here.

Climate Change Watch

The Caribbean is especially vulnerable to rising sea levels brought about by global warming. Read the latest news and information here...

Follow Caribbean News Now on Twitter
Connect with Caribbean News Now on Linkedin
Instagram



News from the Caribbean:




Back To Today's News

EarthTalk: Was Hurricane Harvey caused by global warming?
Published on September 2, 2017 Email To Friend    Print Version

earthtalk_harvey.jpg
While global warming didn't cause Hurricane Harvey, it certainly made it worse. Photo: Texas.713, FlickrCC

The short answer is no. No single hurricane or weather event can be directly linked to the general phenomena known as climate change.

“Climate change does not cause things, because climate change is not a causal agent,” David Roberts wrote on Vox.com. “‘Climate change’ is a descriptive term -- it describes the fact that the climate is changing.”

That said, global warming likely did contribute to the severity of Harvey, and has created an overall climate more hospitable to the formation of extreme weather events of every stripe.

"For hurricanes, we would ask the question as to what are the possible hurricane developments in the world we live in and compare that to the possible hurricane developments in a world without climate change," Dr Friederike Otto from the University of Oxford told BBC News.

One definite “fingerprint” of global warming on Harvey is the intensity and amount of rainfall. Climatologists cite the Clausius-Clapeyron equation (a hotter atmosphere holds more moisture: for every extra degree Celsius in warming, the atmosphere can hold seven percent more water) as one link between global warming and stronger storms. Houstonians have witnessed a 167 percent increase in the frequency of the most intense downpours since the 1950s.

Adam Sobel of Columbia’s Initiative on Extreme Weather and Climate estimates that as much as ten percent of Harvey’s rainfall could be blamed on global warming, while Kevin Trenberth of the US National Center for Atmospheric Research pegs the number at closer to 30 percent.

“It may have been a strong storm, and it may have caused a lot of problems anyway -- but [human-caused climate change] amplifies the damage considerably,” Trenberth reported in The Atlantic.

We’re also heating up our seas.

"The waters of the Gulf of Mexico are about 1.5 degrees Celsius warmer above what they were from 1980-2010," reported Sir Brian Hoskins from the Grantham Institute for Climate Change. "That is very significant because it means the potential for a stronger storm is there.”

Meanwhile, even the fact that Harvey hung around so long and dumped rain on and around southeast Texas for nearly four days suggests a climate connection: A recent report from climate scientist Michael Mann suggests that near-stationary summer weather patterns are more common in a warmer world.

But others think we are focusing too much on the climate underpinnings of Harvey. Ilan Kelman of University College London’s Institute for Risk and Disaster Reduction told the BBC that the real human contribution to the catastrophe in Houston is more about the type of development we allow than about the emissions we are pumping skyward.

"The hurricane is just a storm, it is not the disaster," Kelman said. "The disaster is the fact that Houston population has increased by 40 percent since 1990 [and] that many people were too poor to afford insurance or evacuate.”

He added: "Climate change did not make people build along a vulnerable coastline so the disaster itself is our choice and is not linked to climate change."

Links: US National Center for Atmospheric Research, Initiative on Extreme Weather and Climate, “Influence of Anthropogenic Climate Change on Planetary Wave Resonance and Extreme Weather Events,”

EarthTalk® is produced by Roddy Scheer & Doug Moss and is a registered trademark of the nonprofit Earth Action Network. To donate, visit www.earthtalk.org. Send questions to: question@earthtalk.org
 
Reads: 4888





Click here to receive daily news headlines from Caribbean News Now!




Back...

Comments:

No comments on this topic yet. Be the first one to submit a comment.

Back...

As a result of our comments feature being overtaken in recent weeks by spammers using fake email addresses, producing a large number of bounced verification emails each day, we have reluctantly decided to suspend the comments section until further notice.

Disclaimer
User comments posted on this website are the sole views and opinions of the comment author and are not representative of Caribbean News Now or its staff. Caribbean News Now accepts no liability and will not be held accountable for user comments.
Caribbean News Now reserves the right to remove, edit or censor any comments. Any content that is considered unsuitable, unlawful or offensive, includes personal details, advertises or promotes products, services or websites or repeats previous comments will not be approved.
Before posting, please refer to our Terms of Use and Privacy Policy.






Other Headlines:



Regional Sports: