Hurricane Harvey and its remnants have quickly become one of the worst natural disasters in United States history. But we found differing estimates for how climate change might have affected rainfall from Harvey. As with many of our tragedies, the full force of an event can only really be appreciated as we live it in the moment.
In an op-ed authored for Bloomberg View, Ferraro writes that extreme weather events such as Hurricane Harvey-which had brought more than 42 inches of rain to Houston and been linked to at least 10 deaths as of Tuesday morning-will become more common and that leaders in government must face the realities of climate change.
Pielke also found that flood damage has been declining as a proportion of the US economy since 1940 – that way you control for population growth and development.
The great trump card of those uninterested in addressing the warming climate is to note that extreme storms, like the hurricane that overwhelmed Houston over the weekend, have been happening for centuries.
The fury of Tropical Storm Harvey and the record rains falling in the region are also part of a larger story that is unfolding around the world at a pace that’s too slow to engage with our emotions the same way this epic storm has. “Sometimes we just forget that we live in these weather-prone disaster zones where the threat is high”. The good news is, that means there’s room for our knowledge to grow, and for new tools like weather attribution to help us manage future risks. Martin Hoerling, a research meteorologist at NOAA’s Earth Systems Research Laboratory in Boulder, Colorado, told Gizmodo.
A writer for the St. Louis Post Dispatch warned us about climate change denial in the narrow terms of a failure “to plan for floods” but entirely neglected to discuss the literal climate change denial of President Trump and other members of his administration, who have green-lighted the Dakota Access pipeline. Imagine that happening more often and in more places around the world. Warm air leads to warm water, and the Gulf of Mexico has been unusually warm this year.
The questions scientists are now asking about stalling storms aren’t along the lines of “did climate change cause the hurricane?” The atmosphere was supercharged with water vapor compared to what might have happened in a similar storm without warming seas. That easily tops the previous five-day record for the contiguous US, which was 48 inches from Tropical Storm Amelia in Medina, Texas, July into August 1978. “Mostly, this is “weather”-big, unsafe weather, but still weather”, he said“. Mann’s graph was widely used in the late 1990s to connect human activities to global warming.
That is a central tenet of climate science: You can’t attribute any given weather event to climate change, but human-induced climate change is making extreme weather events stronger and more frequent, more costly, more deadly. Professor Roger Pielke Jr., director of CU’s Sports Governance Center, formerly a scientist at NCAR and a vocal commentator on climate change issues in the past, has been active on Twitter in recent days.
“The strongest tropical storms could become even stronger due to increasing sea surface temperatures, because this is where these storms get their energy from”, he said. A study released in 2015 suggests that they are. She is the co-author, with Denis Moynihan and David Goodman, of the newly published New York Times best-seller “Democracy Now!: 20 Years Covering the Movements Changing America”.
There is immediate human drama playing out in the Gulf Coast. In that case “we’d probably accept that this could have been all natural”.
As the rain in Texas moved towards the 120cm United States record set in 1978, the nation’s meteorologists have had to introduce a new colour for their charts. Hoerling made the same point in a different way. About 60 percent of locations where the EPA measures flooding show a decrease in “magnitude and intensity since 1965”, according to University of Colorado professor Roger Pielke Jr.