Thursday, May 24, 2018

Global Warming Made Hurricane Harvey More Destructive

Hot oceans fueled Hurricane Harvey, generating more intense rainfall.

The NOAA/NASA Suomi NPP satellite captures an infrared image of Hurricane Harvey just prior to making landfall on August 25, 2017 along the Texas coast. (Photograph Credit: Handout/Getty Images) Click to Enlarge.
Last summer, the United states was pummeled with three severe hurricanes in rapid succession.  It was a truly awesome display of the power of weather and the country is still reeling from the effects.  In the climate community, there has been years of research into the effect that human-caused global warming has on these storms – both their frequency and their power. 

The prevailing view is that in a warming world, there will likely be fewer such storms, but the storms that form will be more severe.  Some research, however, concludes that there will be both more storms and more severe ones.  More generally, because there is more heat, there is more activity, which can be manifested in several ways.

Regardless, there is very little doubt that a warmer planet can create more powerful storms.  The reason is that hurricanes feed off of warmer ocean water.  In order to form these storms, oceans have to be above about 26°C (about 80°F).  With waters that hot, and with strong winds, there is a rapid evaporation of moisture from the ocean.  The resulting water vapor enters into the storm, providing the energy to power the storm as the water vapor condenses and falls out of the storm as rain.

Read more at Global Warming Made Hurricane Harvey More Destructive

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