The best of EcoWatch, right in your inbox. Sign up for our email newsletter!
Climate Change May Be Slowing Hurricanes, Leading to More Flood-Heavy Storms Like Harvey
Two studies published within two months of each other show that typhoons and hurricanes are getting slower, and are expected to slow even more as the planet warms, suggesting that climate change is already extending the time storms spend hammering communities, National Geographic reported Wednesday.
"Nothing good comes out of a slowing storm," National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Center for Weather and Climate scientist James Kossin told National Geographic. "It can increase storm surge. It can increase the amount of time that structures are subjected to strong wind. And it increases rainfall."
Kossin wrote one of the new studies, published in Nature Wednesday, which found that tropical cyclone speed had slowed by an average of 10 percent worldwide from 1949 to 2016.
Another study, led by researchers with the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) and published April 6 in the Journal of Climate, plugged 22 hurricanes from the past 13 years into climate models with temperatures up to five degrees warmer and found that the storms were on average nine percent slower and 24 percent wetter.
"We're showing that it not only slows down, but that it's more intense," lead author on the second study Ethan Gutmann told National Geographic. "That has serious implications for inland flooding and urban infrastructure."
While Kossin's study was only observational and did not address why storms had slowed since 1949, Gutmann's future analysis backs up the hypothesis that global warming is already slowing storms.
Kossin told The Washington Post that his findings were also consistent with the fact that climate change is warming the poles faster than the tropics, slowing circulation, which should also slow storms.
"I went in with that hypothesis and looked at the data, and out popped the signal that was much bigger than anything I was expecting," Kossin told the Post.
The regional results from Kossin's study NOAA
Regionally, the biggest slowdown was over the Western North Pacific, at 20 percent. The storms also slowed more over land, Kossin found, slowing 20 percent over land in the Atlantic region.
Kossin also said slowing storm speed could be a larger contributor to increased flooding than augmented rainfall intensity, since it is happening at a faster rate. Hurricane rainfall is expected to increase seven to 10 percent per degree Celsius of warming, but Kossin found a storm speed decrease of 10 percent in a period that saw just half a degree Celsius of warming.
Either way, both studies indicate the nature of tropical cyclones, and the threats they pose, are shifting with the climate.
"Inland flooding, freshwater flooding, is taking over as the key mortality risk now associated with these storms," Kossin told The Washington Post. "There's been a sea change there in terms of what's dangerous. And, unfortunately, this signal would point to more freshwater flooding."
- 6 Questions About Hurricane Irma, Climate Change and Harvey ... ›
- How Climate Change Fueled Hurricane Harvey | WIRED ›
- Another Way Climate Change Might Make Hurricanes Worse ... ›
EcoWatch Daily Newsletter
georgeclerk / E+ / Getty Images
By Jennifer Molidor
One million species are at risk of extinction from human activity, warns a recent study by scientists with the United Nations. We need to cut greenhouse gas pollution across all sectors to avoid catastrophic climate change — and we need to do it fast, said the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.
This research should serve as a rallying cry for polluting industries to make major changes now. Yet the agriculture industry continues to lag behind.
"The Ministry of Environment, Natural Resources Conservation and Tourism wishes to inform the public that following extensive consultations with all stakeholders, the Government of Botswana has taken a decision to lift the hunting suspension," the government announced in a press release shared on social media.
Company Safety Data Sheets on New Chemicals Frequently Lack the Worker Protections EPA Claims They Include
By Richard Denison
Readers of this blog know how concerned EDF is over the Trump EPA's approval of many dozens of new chemicals based on its mere "expectation" that workers across supply chains will always employ personal protective equipment (PPE) just because it is recommended in the manufacturer's non-binding safety data sheet (SDS).
By Grant Smith
From 2009 to 2012, Gregory Jaczko was chairman of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, which approves nuclear power plant designs and sets safety standards for plants. But he now says that nuclear power is too dangerous and expensive — and not part of the answer to the climate crisis.
By Brett Walton
When Greg Wetherbee sat in front of the microscope recently, he was looking for fragments of metals or coal, particles that might indicate the source of airborne nitrogen pollution in Rocky Mountain National Park. What caught his eye, though, were the plastics.
In a big victory for animals, Prada has announced that it's ending its use of fur! It joins Coach, Jean Paul Gaultier, Giorgio Armani, Versace, Ralph Lauren, Vivienne Westwood, Michael Kors, Donna Karan and many others PETA has pushed toward a ban.
This is a victory more than a decade in the making. PETA and our international affiliates have crashed Prada's catwalks with anti-fur signs, held eye-catching demonstrations all around the world, and sent the company loads of information about the fur industry. In 2018, actor and animal rights advocate Pamela Anderson sent a letter on PETA's behalf urging Miuccia Prada to commit to leaving fur out of all future collections, and the iconic designer has finally listened.
If people in three European countries want to fight the climate crisis, they need to chill out more.
"The rapid pace of labour-saving technology brings into focus the possibility of a shorter working week for all, if deployed properly," Autonomy Director Will Stronge said, The Guardian reported. "However, while automation shows that less work is technically possible, the urgent pressures on the environment and on our available carbon budget show that reducing the working week is in fact necessary."
The report found that if the economies of Germany, Sweden and the UK maintain their current levels of carbon intensity and productivity, they would need to switch to a six, 12 and nine hour work week respectively if they wanted keep the rise in global temperatures to the below two degrees Celsius promised by the Paris agreement, The Independent reported.
The study based its conclusions on data from the UN and the OECD (Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development) on greenhouse gas emissions per industry in all three countries.
The report comes as the group Momentum called on the UK's Labour Party to endorse a four-day work week.
"We welcome this attempt by Autonomy to grapple with the very real changes society will need to make in order to live within the limits of the planet," Emma Williams of the Four Day Week campaign said in a statement reported by The Independent. "In addition to improved well-being, enhanced gender equality and increased productivity, addressing climate change is another compelling reason we should all be working less."
Supporters of the idea linked it to calls in the U.S. and Europe for a Green New Deal that would decarbonize the economy while promoting equality and well-being.
"This new paper from Autonomy is a thought experiment that should give policymakers, activists and campaigners more ballast to make the case that a Green New Deal is absolutely necessary," Common Wealth think tank Director Mat Lawrence told The Independent. "The link between working time and GHG (greenhouse gas) emissions has been proved by a number of studies. Using OECD data and relating it to our carbon budget, Autonomy have taken the step to show what that link means in terms of our working weeks."
Stronge also linked his report to calls for a Green New Deal.
"Becoming a green, sustainable society will require a number of strategies – a shorter working week being just one of them," he said, according to The Guardian. "This paper and the other nascent research in the field should give us plenty of food for thought when we consider how urgent a Green New Deal is and what it should look like."
- Reduced Work Hours as a Means of Slowing Climate Change ›
- How working less could solve all our problems. Really. | ›
- Needed: A shorter work week – People's World ›