Climate change worsens hurricanes


The ongoing effects of climate change is worsening the impacts of hurricanes, new research from the Berkeley National Laboratory has found.

New modelling released by the laboratory has found that climate change intensified the amount of rainfall in recent hurricanes such as Katrina, Irma, and Maria by 5 to 10 percent. They further found that if those hurricanes were to occur in a future world that is warmer than present, those storms would have even more rainfall and stronger winds.

“We’re already starting to see anthropogenic factors influencing tropical cyclone rainfall,” said Patricola, a scientist in Berkeley Lab’s Earth and Environmental Sciences Area and lead author of the study. “And our simulations strongly indicate that as time goes on we can expect to see even greater increases in rainfall.”

Patricola chose 15 tropical cyclones that have occurred over the last decade across the globe – including the Atlantic, Pacific, and Indian Oceans – and ran high-resolution climate simulations of those storms in different scenarios, varying factors such as air and ocean temperatures, humidity, and greenhouse gas concentrations.

“It is difficult to unravel how climate change may be influencing tropical cyclones using observations alone because records before the satellite-era are incomplete and natural variability in tropical cyclones is large,” she said.

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