Scientists Now Expect Busier Hurricane Season as El Niño Ends
Scientists from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's (NOAA) Climate Prediction Center said this year's hurricane season is shaping up into a busy one, as the AP reported.
Initial predictions in May forecasted a mild hurricane season, but that was revised after the summer's weak El Niño faded. El Niño is an occasional warming of parts of the Pacific that affects weather worldwide and dampens storm activity.
In the wake of a weak El Niño system, the Atlantic season looks more active than normal as peak hurricane season approaches. Forecasters now predict up to 17 named storms, with five to nine hurricanes and two to four major ones, according to the AP. That's revised from the initial prediction of 12 named storms.
If there are 17 named storms, the 17th will be Rebekah.
The revised prediction, which NOAA released Thursday, stated that El Niño returned to normal, allowing hurricanes to start to form. The forecasters then raised the likelihood of an above-normal hurricane season in the Atlantic to 45 percent. It was just 30 percent in their May prediction. Meanwhile, the chance for a below-normal season dropped to just 20 percent, as the New York Times reported.
So far, there already have been two named storms; the most notable was Barry, which drenched the Gulf Coast in July.
The New York Times reports that the effect of the climate crisis is increasingly clear. Some of the global heating tamps down hurricane formation by increasing changes in wind direction. However, warmer oceans intensify the storms' force, once they do form, making them more powerful and more dangerous. On top of that, a warmer atmosphere and higher sea levels means storms can hold significantly more moisture, making wetter storms. Those heavy storms tend to stall and drop enormous amounts of water, as was the case this in Houston when Hurricane Harvey dropped 60 inches of rain.
However, the researchers at NOAA did not use the climate crisis as a major decider in their predictions. Instead, they looked at more traditional measures like the El Niño pattern and atmospheric conditions and decades of hurricane data, according to Gerry Bell, the lead scientific forecaster at NOAA, as the New York Times reported. However, Bell noted that the Atlantic is currently in a cycle of higher activity, he said, and those cycles "completely dominate the record."
In a rapidly changing world under the climate crisis, looking at historical trends may not be as informative as previously thought.
"We are entering a world where history is an unreliable guide for decision making, said Andrew Pershing who runs the Climate Change Ecology Lab at the Gulf of Maine Research Institute, as Ecowatch reported.
It's impossible to say if any of the Atlantic storms will make landfall until about a week before it does.
The next storm names for the current season are Chantal, Dorian and Erin, according to the New York Times.
- Redwoods are the world's tallest trees.
- Now scientists have discovered they are even bigger than we thought.
- Using laser technology they map the 80-meter giants.
- Trees are a key plank in the fight against climate change.
They are among the largest trees in the world, descendants of forests where dinosaurs roamed.
Pixabay / Simi Luft<p><span>Until recently, measuring these trees meant scaling their 80 meter high trunks with a tape measure. Now, a team of scientists from University College London and the University of Maryland uses advanced laser scanning, to create 3D maps and calculate the total mass.</span></p><p>The results are striking: suggesting the trees <a href="https://www.nature.com/articles/s41598-020-73733-6" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">may be as much as 30% larger than earlier measurements suggested.</a> Part of that could be due to the additional trunks the Redwoods can grow as they age, <a href="https://www.nature.com/articles/s41598-020-73733-6" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">a process known as reiteration</a>.</p>
New 3D measurements of large redwood trees for biomass and structure. Nature / UCL<p>Measuring the trees more accurately is important because carbon capture will probably play a key role in the battle against climate change. Forest <a href="https://www.wri.org/blog/2020/09/carbon-sequestration-natural-forest-regrowth" target="_blank">growth could absorb billions of tons</a> of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere each year.</p><p>"The importance of big trees is widely-recognised in terms of carbon storage, demographics and impact on their surrounding ecosystems," the authors wrote<a href="https://www.nature.com/articles/s41598-020-73733-6" target="_blank"> in the journal Nature</a>. "Unfortunately the importance of big trees is in direct proportion to the difficulty of measuring them."</p><p>Redwoods are so long lived because of their ability to <a href="https://www.nature.com/articles/s41598-020-73733-6" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">cope with climate change, resist disease and even survive fire damage</a>, the scientists say. Almost a fifth of their volume may be bark, which helps protect them.</p>
Carbon Capture Champions<p><span>Earlier research by scientists at Humboldt University and the University of Washington found that </span><a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0378112716302584" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Redwood forests store almost 2,600 tonnes of carbon per hectare</a><span>, their bark alone containing more carbon than any other neighboring species.</span></p><p>While the importance of trees in fighting climate change is widely accepted, not all species enjoy the same protection as California's coastal Redwoods. In 2019 the world lost the equivalent of <a href="https://www.worldwildlife.org/threats/deforestation-and-forest-degradation" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">30 soccer fields of forest cover every minute</a>, due to agricultural expansion, logging and fires, according to The Worldwide Fund for Nature (WWF).</p>
Pixabay<p>Although <a href="https://c402277.ssl.cf1.rackcdn.com/publications/1420/files/original/Deforestation_fronts_-_drivers_and_responses_in_a_changing_world_-_full_report_%281%29.pdf?1610810475" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">the rate of loss is reported to have slowed in recent years</a>, reforesting the world to help stem climate change is a massive task.</p><p><span>That's why the World Economic Forum launched the Trillion Trees Challenge (</span><a href="https://www.1t.org/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">1t.org</a><span>) and is engaging organizations and individuals across the globe through its </span><a href="https://uplink.weforum.org/uplink/s/uplink-issue/a002o00000vOf09AAC/trillion-trees" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Uplink innovation crowdsourcing platform</a><span> to support the project.</span></p><p>That's backed up by research led by ETH Zurich/Crowther Lab showing there's potential to restore tree coverage across 2.2 billion acres of degraded land.</p><p>"Forests are critical to the health of the planet," according to <a href="https://www.1t.org/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">1t.org</a>. "They sequester carbon, regulate global temperatures and freshwater flows, recharge groundwater, anchor fertile soil and act as flood barriers."</p><p><em data-redactor-tag="em" data-verified="redactor">Reposted with permission from the </em><span><em data-redactor-tag="em" data-verified="redactor"><a href="https://www.weforum.org/agenda/2021/03/redwoods-store-more-co2-and-are-more-enormous-than-we-thought/" target="_blank">World Economic Forum</a>.</em></span></p>
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