By Ajit Niranjan
Storms, floods, wildfires and droughts drove more than 30 million people from their homes last year, as rising temperatures wrought extra chaos on the climate, according to a report published Thursday by the Internal Displacement Monitoring Center (IDMC).
Together with wars and violence, which forced 9.8 million people to flee within their borders, extreme weather brought the number of new internal displacements in 2020 to 40.5 million people, according to the IDMC. The Geneva-based research organization estimates a record-breaking 55 million people were living displaced within their own country by the end of the year.
That's twice the number of refugees in the world.
Extreme weather is growing unnaturally strong as people burn fossil fuels and warp the climate. It is projected to drive more and more people from their homes through sudden shocks like floods and storms, as well as slower-burning crises like crop failures and drought. In rich countries, politicians have raised fears that more migration from poorer regions could overwhelm public services as the planet heats up.
The idea that climate change will trigger mass migration towards rich countries is a "distraction" from the fact that most displacement is internal, said Bina Desai, head of programs at the IDMC. "It's a moral obligation to really invest in supporting people where they are — rather than just thinking about the risk of them arriving at the borders."
The annual report, in its sixth year, found more than 80% of the people forced from their homes in 2020 were in Asia and Africa.
In Asia, most of the people forced to flee did so because of extreme weather. In countries like China, India, Bangladesh, Vietnam, the Philippines and Indonesia — where hundreds of millions of people live on low-lying coastlines and deltas — a combination of population growth and urbanization has left more people exposed to floods that have grown stronger as sea levels have risen.
The most severe cyclone to hit India in two decades made landfall on Monday, forcing authorities to evacuate 200,000 people in the state of Gujarat. But while early warning systems can save lives by pulling people out of harm's way, many of the displaced do not have a home to come back to. When Cyclone Amphan struck Bangladesh last year it forced 2.5 million people to flee and destroyed 55,500 homes, according to the report, suggesting that 10% of the people displaced were left homeless.
In Africa, most displacements in 2020 were due to conflict. Persistent violence forced people from their homes in countries like Burkina Faso and Mozambique, while new wars sprang up in other countries like Ethiopia. The IDMC estimated half a million people had fled fighting in Ethiopia's Tigray region by the end of last year. Since then, UNICEF has put the figure above one million.
Some conflicts were coupled with unusually long and heavy rainy seasons that brought floods and crop losses to countries already affected by violence. Heavy rains forced people already displaced once to flee again in countries like Somalia, Sudan, South Sudan and Niger, according to the report. Such environmental disasters triggered 4.3 million displacements in sub-Saharan Africa in 2020. At least half of them were still displaced by the end of the year.
Migrants from rural areas to cities are often "forced to settle in areas that are not safe for habitation and prone to flooding or other hazards," said Lisa Lim Ah Ken, a regional climate specialist at the UN's International Organization for Migration (IOM) in Kenya. "A lot can be done, starting with prevention."
Researchers say the links between climate and migration are poorly understood and sometimes overstated. While the IDMC compiles data on internal displacement — most of which comes from sudden disasters like floods and storms — there is little data on how many people leave homes because of slow-burning environmental crises like rising temperatures and sea levels.
Still, a meta-analysis published in March by the University of Potsdam's Center for Economic Policy Analysis found that disasters that unfold over a long time like heatwaves and drought are more likely to increase migration than disasters that hit suddenly like floods and hurricanes. The researchers suggest this is because people need money to migrate, which is often lacking after sudden shocks, even though they cause immediate displacement across shorter distances.
Those who stay put — often without insurance to rebuild houses or livelihoods — can be trapped in a cycle of extreme weather that prevents them from leaving, though others may choose to stay behind for other reasons.
"If you want to migrate, then you need some resources to do so," said Barbora Sedova, an economist studying conflict and migration at the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research, and co-author of the study. "What is not so much talked about is the populations that are trapped at the origin and that actually lack the resources to migrate."
Increasingly Extreme Weather
Climate change has already made extreme weather even more extreme — including in rich countries.
A study published in the journal Natural Hazards and Earth System Sciences in March found that the risk of intense fire during the 2019/2020 Australian wildfire season was made 30% more likely by human changes to the climate. The fires killed 34 people and destroyed thousands of homes.
On Tuesday, a study published in the journal Nature Communications found that 13 percent of the $62.5 billion in damages when Hurricane Sandy struck New York City in 2012 was the result of sea-level rise. Had humans not heated the planet, and assuming all other factors stayed constant, the floods would have hit 70,000 fewer people, the modelers found.
Climate migration researchers have called for governments to cut their greenhouse gas emissions swiftly, adapt to the changing climate and continue to support displaced communities once the immediate danger has passed.
"If we create opportunities for these people in cities — in terms of employment, housing, life and dignity — then migration does not necessarily have to become an issue of international security," said Sedova. "If it's well managed, it can even have positive consequences for the country."
Reposted with permission from DW.
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After Hurricane Ida hit New Orleans and its remnants struck New Jersey and New York, rescue efforts took place via boats and kayaks and people were often forced to walk through standing water. Some the standing water continues in flooded basements. It raises questions about the hazardous materials, such as wood planks, nails, random metal objects, as well as the less visible toxins, such as bacteria and fertilizers, which could be in the water.
When it rains, stormwater runs over land and lawn, sidewalks and streets, pavements and parking lots collecting whatever is in its way. The water gathers fertilizers, pesticides, phosphates, gasoline, heavy metals, litter, plastic and more.
In most of New York City, storm runoff, sewage and wastewater from industries flow through the same pipes. (Queens and Staten Island are the exception: they have separate systems for sewage and stormwater.) The water is funneled to the city's fourteen wastewater treatment plants.
During intensely wet weather, however, the water is not conveyed to the treatment plants, since it would exceed their capacity. Instead, "during such overflow periods, a portion of the sanitary sewage entering, or already in, the combined sewers discharges untreated into the waterway along with stormwater and debris washed from streets," according to the New York City Environmental Quality Review Technical Manual. Specially, "during storms, if a greater amount of combined flow reaches the regulator, the excess is directed to outfalls into the nearest waterway (e.g., the Hudson River, East River)."
All it takes to exceed the capacity is rains of a tenth of an inch per hour. And according to the National Weather Service, it rained over three inches an hour when Ida measured at its most intense in Central Park.
This untreated overflow is called Combined Sewer Overflow (CSO). It is discharged out of 460 sites located around New York City. The overflow could contain anything from gasoline to pollutants from industrial facilities to untreated sewage.
Untreated sewage, in turn, might lead to bacteria in the water. Among bacteria, total coliform are widespread in nature, found in soil, water and animal and human waste. Fecal coliform, a subset of total coliform, are present in the gut and specifically in the feces of warm-blooded animals.
A species of fecal coliform is Escherichia coli or E. coli, which can be found in livestock such as cattle, chickens, pigs and sheep. While coliform typically does not cause disease, some strands of E.coli are harmful. Undercooked meat and contaminated water can be sources. The water can become contaminated by leaking septic tanks or sewage pipes; by the fecal matter of birds, humans, livestock and pets; or by the aforementioned untreated sewage. Typically, whether the water is safe cannot be determined by look, smell or taste. Instead the water must be tested.
Other common pollutants carried in stormwater include fertilizers, heavy metals, nitrates, PCBs, pesticides, phosphates and plastic particles — whatever chemicals the water flows over. Unlike water that goes down the drain at home, stormwater that goes down a drain on a street corner is untreated. Carrying its accumulated pollutants with it, it dispels them into waterways, creating not only an environmental hazard but also a health risk.
New York City's water system is 150 years old. It badly needs an update to separate the sewage and stormwater systems. That said, even if the sewage were no longer to flow out the CSOs, the toxicity of the stormwater would remain, as would the risk of flooding.
In Queens, eleven of the thirteen fatalities were a result of flooded basement apartments. The areas that flooded and where eleven people drowned overlapped with a floodmap that the city issued in May 2021. According to The City, "the interactive map [was] released in conjunction with Mayor Bill de Blasio's stormwater resiliency plan and required by a 2018 City Council law."
Two days after five feet of water flooded Ivette Mayo's home in Woodside, she began to feel ill. By Monday, she nee… https://t.co/JCAWNS4Cl3— Gothamist (@Gothamist)1631142241.0
Flooding can destroy a home and its electrical systems. It can create problems for the foundation and lead to structural issues. Mold is a big risk resulting from flooding, which can create health problems. Basements were not only more damaged but are also harder to dry out.
The cleanup can also be a challenge. The repairs can lead to exposure to asbestos, lead and other toxins found in homes. Of course, many products used to clean up also contain chemicals. The U.S. Department of Labor's Office of Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) advises that for floods at the workplace, "cleaning up spills of hazardous materials, and search and rescue, should only be conducted by workers who have the proper training, equipment and experience." Similar advice is prudent for floods at home to avoid the health risks.
Yet hiring professionals to carry out these cleanups costs money. And many of those living in basement apartments were living in them precisely because they tend to be cheaper in price.
So what to do? Having the floodmaps in place is great but action must also be taken based on them to ensure that those most at risk are protected. It means that developers should not be allowed to build in flood zones. The mayor's office estimates that there are at least 50,000 basement apartments in NYC with at least 100,000 residents. Basement apartments raise the issue of the need for housing to be more affordable in New York City or for wages to be commensurate with the cost of living in New York City.
Action is key because as the flooding of New Orleans after Katrina and Ida and now Nicholas, of Houston after Harvey and of New York City after Ida has shown, the threat of flooding is becoming less than a once a century risk. In New York City an estimated 2.5 million residents are already living in storm surge inundation zones.
The Netherlands — literally named the nether lands because about one third of the country lies below sea level — and other countries have been at the forefront of adapting to inundation. Coastal zones prone to flooding could be restored as wetlands. New York City currently has only "one percent of its historic freshwater wetlands and ten percent of its historic wetlands, namely in Brooklyn, Queens and Staten Island," according to the Mayor's Office of Long-Term Planning and Sustainability. It never ceases to amaze how a map of historical wetlands compares with a map of current flood zones.
Tidelands of the New York New Jersey Harbor Estuary. Regional Plan Association
Storm surge inundation zones and depths. NHC, USACE
Existing wetlands could be protected and opportunities for expanding protection and restoration could be pursued. Wetlands help control floods by absorbing floodwater and stabilizing shorelines. Wetlands also help improve water quality by filtering stormwater runoff.
Myriad other strategies exist for reducing flooding and runoff. Rooftop gardens could gather rain and also, unlike tar, cool, and provide food. It might sound like a small thing but if expanded to the scale of the city, it would add up. Playgrounds and below ground parking garages could be constructing to double manner as catchment for water. More green along streets could harvest water. Since 2007, NYC has required permeable pavement for lots with more than 18 spaces of larger than 6000 square feet. Porous pavement is also being implemented. Both could be scaled up. Buzzwords to avoid floods in the new era: permeable and porous. Is it time for the return of cobblestones?
Floodwater can contain anything from sewage and sharp objects to downed power lines. Stay away from flood waters wh… https://t.co/mSiymxBIIY— CDC Environment (@CDC Environment)1631718120.0
Tina Gerhardt is an environmental journalist. She covers international climate negotiations, energy policy, sea level rise and related direct actions. Her work has been published by Grist, The Progressive, The Nation, Sierra and the Washington Monthly.
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Medically reviewed by Anna H. Chacon, M.D.
From eating foods for healthy skin to switching up your morning and routines, taking care of the largest organ in the body can get overwhelming. Recently, vitamin C has grown in popularity in the skincare world — but do the best vitamin C serums live up to the hype?
Vitamin C is not only an essential supplement for your immune system and overall health, but it's also a great skincare ingredient that can help limit inflammation, brighten skin, dull fine lines and wrinkles, fight free radicals, and reduce discoloration and dark spots.
Adding vitamin C to your skincare routine seems like a no-brainer, but before you start shopping for a serum, it's important to be aware that vitamin C is an unstable ingredient. Dermatologists say it's important to find legit and properly formulated vitamin C serums to capitalize on the benefits of the antioxidant. In this article, we'll help you find the right dermatologist-approved vitamin C serum to add to your routine.
Our Picks for the Best Vitamin C Serums of 2021
Each product featured here has been independently selected by the writer. You can learn more about our review methodology here. If you make a purchase using the links included, we may earn commission.
- Best Overall: ZO Skin Health 10% Vitamin C Self-Activating
- Best for Sensitive Skin: Paula's Choice RESIST Super Antioxidant Concentrate Serum
- Best Budget-Friendly Serum: CeraVe Vitamin C Serum with Hyaluronic Acid
- Best Cruelty-Free Serum: Timeless Skin Care 20% Vitamin C Plus E Ferulic Acid Serum
- Best Anti-Aging Serum: SkinCeuticals C E Ferulic Combination Antioxidant Treatment
- Best Brightening Serum: The Ordinary Vitamin C Suspension 23% + HA Spheres 2%
Skincare Benefits of Vitamin C
Also known as ascorbic acid or L-ascorbic acid, vitamin C is an antioxidant that is present in the formation of collagen and that protects against aging, according to Dr. Anna Chacon, a board-certified dermatologist with MyPsoriasisTeam. A vitamin C serum may be a solid addition to your skincare routine because it has a great safety profile, and it's safe for most skin types.
"Vitamin C serum restores and neutralizes environmental stressors that accelerate signs of aging and can be used morning and evening," Dr. Chacon says. However, she warns, "it does not come with sun protection, so additional use of sunscreen is recommended."
As an antioxidant, vitamin C protects skin cells from being damaged by free radicals from things like UV exposure, vehicle exhaust and cigarette smoke. It also hampers melanin production, which can help to lighten hyperpigmentation and brown spots and even out your skin tone.
6 Best Vitamin C Serums
Based on dermatologist recommendations and our market research, the following products are the best vitamin C serums available today.
Best Overall: ZO Skin Health 10% Vitamin C Self-Activating
Our overall recommendation for the best vitamin C serum is the ZO Skin Health 10% Vitamin C Self-Activating serum. The product contains 10% vitamin C, which has anti-aging properties and minimizes the appearance of fine lines, wrinkles and sunspots by promoting collagen production. "I have this in my bathroom," Dr. Chacon says. "It is gentle and non-irritating, and it leaves your skin radiant afterward."
Customer Rating: 4.7 out of 5 stars with under 100 Amazon ratings
Why Buy: Along with L-ascorbic acid, this serum includes ingredients like Coenzyme Q10 for multi-layer antioxidant protection and plant-derived squalane for added hydration. ZO Skin Health's products are all cruelty-free.
Best for Sensitive Skin: Paula's Choice RESIST Super Antioxidant Concentrate Serum
Made with plant- and vitamin-derived antioxidants including vitamin C, vitamin E, peptides and CoQ10, Paula's Choice RESIST Super Antioxidant Concentrate Serum will help rejuvenate your skin. The formula fights dullness, enhances firmness and reduces the appearance of wrinkles.
Customer Rating: 4.6 out of 5 stars with about 300 Amazon ratings
Why Buy: This product is paraben-free, fragrance-free and cruelty-free, as it's not tested on animals. The container is 100% recyclable through TerraCycle, and it's formulated and manufactured in the U.S.
Best Budget-Friendly Serum: CeraVe Vitamin C Serum with Hyaluronic Acid
CeraVe Vitamin C Serum with Hyaluronic Acid offers high value at a reasonable price. It is a hydrating vitamin C serum that's fragrance-free, paraben-free, non-comedogenic and budget-friendly to boot. The formula uses 10% pure vitamin C to prevent free radical damage as well as soothing vitamin B5 and hyaluronic acid to make the skin look smooth and create a moisture barrier for your skin.
Customer Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars with over 20,000 Amazon ratings
Why Buy: Chacon calls CeraVe "a trusted, dermatologist-oriented brand" that comes at drugstore prices, so it's a great choice if you want to try out a budget-friendly vitamin C serum.
Best Cruelty-Free Serum: Timeless Skin Care 20% Vitamin C Plus E Ferulic Acid Serum
Timeless Skin Care's vitamin C serum promotes healthy cell turnover to help minimize the effects of hyperpigmentation and even out your skin tone. According to Dr. Chacon, "vitamin C, E and ferulic acid are all key ingredients that help to brighten skin, building up collagen and evening out tone." This product's formula is non-greasy and lightweight, so it absorbs quickly and clearly into the skin.
Customer Rating: 4.3 out of 5 stars with over 1,700 Amazon ratings
Why Buy: The Timeless Skin Care formula is paraben-free, synthetic dye-free, fragrance-free and polyethylene glycol-free. The company doesn't test on animals, and the product is made in the U.S. from natural ingredients. It's also part of the TerraCycle recycling program.
Best Anti-Aging Serum: SkinCeuticals C E Ferulic Combination Antioxidant Treatment
Using dermatologist-approved ingredients, SkinCeuticals C E Ferulic Combination Antioxidant Treatment is lightweight and helps to firm, smooth, and brighten the skin for a more youthful look. The formula utilizes 15% pure vitamin C as well as vitamin E and ferulic acid to protect against environmental damage from things like sunlight, ozone pollution and diesel engine exhaust. Plus, it helps firm the skin and reduce the appearance of wrinkles and fine lines.
Customer Rating: 4.1 out of 5 stars with over 200 Amazon ratings
Why Buy: The SkinCeuticals C E Ferulic Combination Antioxidant Treatment is one of the best vitamin C serums for anti-aging purposes. It has an oil-like formulation that goes on smoothly and works effectively without clogging pores.
Best Brightening Serum: The Ordinary Vitamin C Suspension 23% + HA Spheres 2%
The Ordinary Vitamin C Suspension 23% + HA Spheres 2% is a topical form of vitamin C that's rich in antioxidants to target aging and brighten the skin. It uses a high concentration of L-ascorbic acid as well as hyaluronic acid spheres for skin hydration. The brightening serum helps enhance skin smoothness and radiance without being too harsh. However, to test skin sensitivity, it is always recommended to perform a patch test before a full application.
Customer Rating: 4.3 out of 5 stars with over 4,500 Amazon ratings
Why Buy: This vitamin C brightening serum is cruelty-free and vegan and does not contain alcohol, phthalates, gluten, fragrance, nuts, oil, silicone, parabens or sulfates. The moisturizing serum is good for all skin types, including acne-prone skin and dry skin.
FAQ: Best Vitamin C Serums
What vitamin C serum is the most effective?
Our top recommended vitamin C serum is the ZO Skin Health 10% Vitamin C Self-Activating serum. It is a dermatologist-approved antioxidant powerhouse, yet it is gentle, non-irritating and leaves you with glowing skin.
Should you use vitamin C serum every day?
Dermatologists recommend using vitamin C serum either every day or every other day. After you cleanse and tone your face, use your vitamin c product before applying moisturizer and reef-safe sunscreen with at least SPF 30.
Does vitamin C serum really work?
According to dermatologists, the best vitamin C serums work to protect against skin aging. However, if you do not purchase a doctor-recommended product, you run the risk of wasting your money on a low-concentration serum that won't give you any benefits.
What are the drawbacks of vitamin C serums?
Many vitamin C serums on the market, especially cheaper products, have nearly immeasurable concentrations of antioxidants, which makes them ineffective. Additionally, as with any skincare product, some individuals may have reactions to vitamin C serums including itchiness and redness.
Anna H. Chacon, M.D. is a dermatologist and author originally from Miami, Florida. She has authored over a dozen peer-reviewed articles, book chapters and has been published in JAAD, Archives of Dermatology, British Journal of Dermatology, Cosmetic Dermatology and Cutis.
Climate change caused by the extraction and combustion of fossil fuels is making extreme precipitation events worse and more frequent. The storm dropped 3-4 inches per hour from eastern Pennsylvania to southwest Connecticut — rates so extreme they essentially negate any difference between soil and paved surfaces and essentially all the rain becomes streamflow.
At least 11 in New York City drowned in their basement apartments, highlighting the dangers of illegal basement apartments in the city. More than 800 people were rescued from flooding subways. About 1,300 miles away in Independence, Louisiana, four nursing home residents died after being 'housed' in a remote warehouse after being evacuated ahead of the hurricane. The storm, like Katrina, hit at the end of the month, when those who rely on retirement or government assistance have exhausted their financial resources.
The dangers are worst for those experiencing homelessness and otherwise unable to evacuate, like Angelique and Wilfred Hebert who walked 15 miles to try to catch an evacuation bus but missed it and were forced to ride out the storm by a concrete pillar under a bridge. "It was the most terrifying thing I've ever been through," Angelique told the AP.
As reported by the AP:
In New Orleans, Mayor LaToya Cantrell said roughly half the population evacuated ahead of Ida. The other half — 200,000 people — remained. For them and those who'd returned to a city with a shattered power grid, officials opened cooling stations and gave out meals Wednesday.
At one center, Barbara Bradie, a work-from-home agent for Walgreens, and Rita Richardson, a research coordinator at Tulane Medical Center, enjoyed their hot meal: pork, peas and bread. They said they couldn't have evacuated; neither has a car.
Richardson said she evacuated once, for Hurricane Gustav in 2008: "I was out of town 10 days, and I was broke by the time I got home... I'd rather just stay here and deal with it."
Bradie added: "People think you just get up and go. You've got to have a car, put gas in the car, got to have a hotel."
After Hurricane Katrina, the city partnered with a nonprofit to put together a "City-Assisted Evacuation Plan" where people would meet at designated neighborhood pickup spots — marked with 12-foot stainless steel sculptures— for a shuttle to shelters. But in Ida — a storm intensifying so fast the mayor said mandatory evacuation wasn't possible — the system was not utilized, Colten said.
Even for families who were able to evacuate, the financial impact will be long-lasting and painful. Some spent their last dollars to get their families to safety.
For a deeper dive:
AP, The New York Times, The Washington Post; Rain: Yale Climate Connections, E&E News, The Conversation; Basement apartments: The New York Times, The New York Times; Subway system & rescues: CNN, Climate Home, Gizmodo; Nursing home: NOLA.com, NOLA.com, NOLA.com, NOLA.com, AP, CNN; Unhoused people: (AP; Climate Signals background: Extreme precipitation increase)
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Hurricane Larry formed early Thursday, NOLA.com reported. It currently has maximum sustained winds of 80 miles per hour, according to an 11 a.m. Atlantic Standard Time (AST) update from the National Hurricane Center (NHC), making it a Category 1 storm for now.
"Steady to rapid strengthening is forecast during the next couple of days, and Larry is expected to become a major hurricane by Friday night," NHC wrote.
Further, the NHC predicted that it could reach wind speeds of 130 miles per hour by Sunday night, making it a Category 4 storm, the South Florida Sun Sentinel reported.
Larry first became a hurricane around 5 a.m. AST, according to the NHC. At the time, it had winds of up to 75 miles per hour. Within six hours, it had gotten "larger and a bit stronger," NHC said.
Hurricane #Larry Advisory 8: Larry is Larger and a Bit Stronger. Steady to Rapid Intensification Likely in the Comi… https://t.co/MErb5lWNRh— National Hurricane Center (@National Hurricane Center)1630593724.0
As of the most recent update, the storm is located about 660 miles west from the southernmost Cape Verde Islands. There are currently no coastal watches or warnings in effect, and NOLA.com reported that it does not immediately threaten any land.
However, the South Florida Sun Sentinel said that the forecast showed its path moving west and then northwest towards the Caribbean Sea through Sunday. Hurricane forecast maps can only predict a storm's movement five days out, but NHC said the storm could become one of the longest-running tropical systems on record.
At the same time, forecasters are tracking two low pressure areas, Orlando.com reported. One has a 20 percent chance of development over the next five days and is moving towards the Yucatán Peninsula. The other formed about 300 miles east-southeast of the southernmost Cabo Verde Islands. It has a 30 percent chance of development over the next two days.
11 AM EDT, Sep 2nd -- A Special Tropical Weather Outlook has been issued to introduce a new system ESE of the Cabo… https://t.co/rJbRDsAjzx— National Hurricane Center (@National Hurricane Center)1630595953.0
The 2021 hurricane season was forecast to be more active than usual. In early August, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) put the chances of an above average season at 65 percent.
"A mix of competing oceanic and atmospheric conditions generally favor above-average activity for the remainder of the Atlantic hurricane season, including the potential return of La Nina in the months ahead," Matthew Rosencrans, lead seasonal hurricane forecaster at NOAA's Climate Prediction Center, said at the time.
It is not clear whether the climate crisis is making hurricanes more frequent, according to the Center for Climate and Energy Solutions. However, it does increase the chances that the storms that do form will be more dangerous, as they are wetter, more intense and slower moving.
This was the case with Hurricane Ida, CNN noted.
"We've always had hurricanes, we've always had heat waves, we've always had floods and droughts, but what climate change is doing is loading the weather dice against us," Nature Conservancy chief scientist and Texas Tech University professor Katharine Hayhoe told CNN. "It's sneaking in when we're not looking, changing the numbers as we're rolling and asking what is this, how could this happen? The answer to that is climate change."
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Hurricane Ida entered the Gulf of Mexico late Friday, as people in the United States' southern state of Louisiana evacuated high-risk areas and stocked up on essentials.
The hurricane is expected to intensify as it reaches the northern Gulf Coast.
"The time to act is NOW. Hurricane Ida is now forecast to make landfall as a category 4 hurricane," the US National Weather Service tweeted, after the country's National Hurricane Center (NHC) branded the storm "extremely dangerous."
The hurricane made landfall in western Cuba late Friday as a Category 1 storm, with maximum sustained winds hitting 80 miles (130 kilometers) per hour.
More than 10,000 people were evacuated and electricity cut off as a precaution as Ida struck the province of Pinar del Rio. Thousands were evacuated in the capital city of Havana.
Eyes on Gulf Coast
As the storm strengthens to an extremely dangerous Category 4 hurricane, winds are expected to pick up speed — close to 140 miles (225 kilometers) per hour — before making landfall along the Gulf Coast late Sunday.
"This will be a life-altering storm for those who aren't prepared," National Weather Service meteorologist Benjamin Schott said during a Friday news conference with Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards.
The governor urged residents to be prepared: "By nightfall tomorrow night, you need to be where you intend to be to ride out the storm."
US President Joe Biden approved a federal emergency declaration for the state.
White House press secretary Jen Psaki said the Federal Emergency Management Agency was going to send nearly 150 medical personnel and about 50 ambulances to the Gulf Coast to assist hospitals.
Climate Change and Its Repercussions
A recent report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has warned that the world is on track to surpass the warming limit of 1.5 degrees Celsius (2.7 degrees Fahrenheit) within 15 years.
The report explicitly laid out that human emissions were the cause of the rise in temperature, which has already sparked environmental catastrophes around the world.
The authors of the report said we can expect to see more extreme weather and climate events, such as heatwaves, flooding and droughts, than we are already observing.
Reposted with permission from Deutsche Welle.
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As the (still life threatening) remnants of Hurricane Ida continue northeast, survivors of the storm in New Orleans and southeastern Louisiana are coming to terms with a different and dangerous reality: extreme heat for weeks on end without power.
Heat is the top weather-related killer, annually and, as if on cue Tuesday, the National Weather Service issued a heat advisory for the area with a heat index of 106°F forecast for Wednesday. The NWS urged residents to "drink plenty of fluids, stay out of the sun, and check up on relatives and neighbors."
With nearly 800,000 people without running water or under a boil-water advisory, and a lack of power to charge phones. A (potentially weeks-long) power outage was supposed to be prevented by a new gas plant built by Entergy, the local utility, despite calls for distributed renewable energy with battery storage backup instead.
Entergy has a long history of opposing efforts to cut fossil fuel use and improve grid resiliency, despite knowing for decades that climate change caused by the extraction and combustion of fossil fuels would pose an increasing threat to the grid by supercharging hurricanes like Ida.
As reported by The Washington Post:
The near-total failure of the region's energy grid coincides with a sweltering southeastern summer and little respite for residents. Cars and generators will eventually run out of fuel; service stations can't pump gasoline without electricity. Cellphone batteries will expire. Water treatment systems will buckle without a reliable power system.
"Really what we're looking at is how you sustain a large population in New Orleans when it's very hot, very humid and there's no power or food," said Nate Mook, chief executive of relief agency World Central Kitchen, which is preparing to serve 50,000 meals a day in New Orleans for weeks on end. "We're looking at a really difficult situation that is more dangerous than the actual storm impacts. If the energy company isn't able to get the power back on in a week, imagine."
For a deeper dive:
Heat threats: Axios, AP, The Washington Post; Outages: The New York Times, Utility Dive, Democracy Now, E&E News, NBC, Entergy and its gas plant: Earther, The Washington Post; Climate Signals background: Hurricanes, 2021 Atlantic hurricane season
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By Jeff Masters
Extremely dangerous Tropical Cyclone Tauktae made landfall in western India's Gujarat coast on the Arabian Sea around 1:30 p.m. EDT (1730 UTC), May 17.
In its last advisory just after landfall, at 18 UTC, the Joint Typhoon Warning Center (JTWC) rated Tauktae a major category 3 storm with 125 mph winds (1-minute average). At 9 UTC, the India Meteorological Department (IMD), the official agency responsible for issuing tropical cyclone forecasts in the Indian Ocean, rated Tauktae an "extremely severe cyclonic storm" with peak winds of 115 mph (three-minute average), and a central pressure of 950 mb.
Satellite imagery (see Tweet by Scott Bachmeier) showed that Tauktae's structure had changed markedly just before landfall, with the eye growing more distinct and the thunderstorms in the eyewall growing more intense, with colder cloud tops.
[email protected] EWS-G1 (formerly #GOES13) Infrared images showing Cyclone #Tauktae about to make landfall along the… https://t.co/lGK4lyHhIb— Scott Bachmeier (@Scott Bachmeier)1621265906.0
As of 11 a.m. EDT May 17, ANI reported that Tauktae had killed six and injured nine in India. A barge owned by the state-run Oil and Natural Gas Corporation (ONGC), moored to an oil drilling platform in the Heera oil fields (110 miles west-northwest of Mumbai), capsized on Monday, after breaking its mooring. Satellite imagery suggests that the eye of Tauktae passed directly over the site. Working in "challenging conditions," two ships have saved 88 of the 273 people on board the barge; recovery efforts continue. The cyclone likely brought severe wind damage where the eyewall winds hit, a portion of the coast not heavy populated by India's standards. The largest city in the region, Diu (population 52,000), recorded a wind gust of 83 mph (133 kph) in the weaker western eyewall of Tauktae at 12:30 EDT (9:30 p.m. local time). The winds were strong enough to bring down a cell phone tower in the nearby city of Una, Chintan Gandhi reported in a Tweet:
Mobile Tower collapsed due to #Tauktae here at UNA, District Gir Somnath. #CycloneTauktaeupdate #CycloneAlert https://t.co/iY9eVA9mya— Chintan gandhi (@Chintan gandhi)1621271953.0
Perhaps the biggest threat from Tauktae is its storm surge, a threat that will continue for many hours past landfall. The Gulf of Khambhat, to the east of Tauktae's landfall location, is a funnel-shaped bay, ideal for concentrating storm surge water. IMD predicted that the storm surge could reach four meters (13 feet) at the head of the bay. Heavy rains causing flashing flooding and river flooding will also be a major concern all across northwestern India through Tuesday. Evacuation and recovery efforts for Tauktae's impact are sure to complicate India's ongoing severe COVID-19 pandemic in the region.
Figure 1. The top 10 strongest tropical cyclones observed in the Arabian Sea (the portion of the North Indian Ocean between India's west coast and the Middle East). Tauktae was the fifth-strongest Arabian Sea cyclone on record.
Tauktae the Fifth-Strongest Arabian Sea Cyclone on Record
Tropical Cyclone Tauktae reached peak intensity as a category 4 storm with 140 mph winds at 0 UTC, May 17, according to the JTWC. The fifth-strongest tropical cyclone on record in the Northern Indian Ocean's Arabian Sea, Tauktae is one of only six category 4+ cyclones on record in the Arabian Sea. IMD put Tauktae's peak intensity (occurring at 0 UTC, May 17), at 120 mph winds (three-minute average), with a central pressure of 950 mb. Accurate satellite goes back to 1998 for the Indian Ocean.
The JTWC does not assign landfall intensities, but if one considers the six-hourly advisory before landfall (or at landfall), Tauktae is tied as the strongest landfalling Arabian Sea cyclone on record: the top five, according to the JTWC (available at the NOAA Historical Hurricane Tracks database):
1. 125 mph, May 20, 1999, Cyclone 02A/ARB 01, Gujarat State, India
1. 125 mph, May 17, 2021, Cyclone Tauktae, Gujarat State, India
3. 120 mph, June 3, 2010, Cyclone Phet, Oman
3. 120 mph, June 9, 1998, Cyclone 03A/ARB 02, Gujarat State, India
5. 105 mph, June 6, 2007, Cyclone Gonu, Oman
Figure 2. Tracks of all tropical cyclones that have reached at least category 3 strength (1-minute sustained winds of 115 mph or greater) in the Arabian Sea. Only six cyclones have attained category 4 strength (including Tauktae). The one category 5 storm on record was Tropical Cyclone Gonu in 2007 NOAA Historical Hurricane Tracks database
Tauktae Spares Major Metro Area of Mumbai
On Monday, Tauktae passed only 85 miles (140 km) west-southwest of Mumbai, India, the seventh-most populated city in the world (metro area population 20 million). A direct hit clearly could have been catastrophic. According to a 2019 study led by Dr. Adam Sobel, "Tropical Cyclone Hazard to Mumbai in the Recent Historical Climate," a category 3 or stronger cyclone passing within 150 km of the city is estimated to be a 1-in-500-year event (a 0.2% chance of occurring in any particular year). That research did not address how climate change may be impacting these odds, but noted that "the hazard to the city is likely to be increasing because of sea-level rise as well as changes in storm climatology."
#WATCH | Maharashtra: Arabian Sea turns rough, in wake of #CycloneTaukte. Visuals from Marine Drive in Mumbai. https://t.co/ovbFFJPruQ— ANI (@ANI)1621249794.0
Cyclones affecting Mumbai are very rare, as prevailing steering currents tend to drive storms northward and westward rather than eastward onto India's west coast. Mumbai has had only one landfall by a storm at tropical storm strength on record, an unnamed 1940 system (though Adam Sobel has documented a possible hurricane-strength Bombay cyclone in 1948, which killed at least 12 people). (An 1882 Bombay cyclone reputed to have killed 100,000 people in the city was a hoax.)
Tauktae brought winds gusting as high as 71 mph (114 kph) to Mumbai at 2 p.m. local time Monday. Heavy rains also affected the city, with the Mumbai Mesonet showing two stations receiving over 200 mm of rain in less than 24 hours. The 308.5 mm (12.15") that fell at the Ram Mandir location as of 5 p.m. EDT, May 17, set a new 24-hour precipitation record for May. The previous May record 24-hour precipitation for the city (since 1981) was 190.8 mm (7.51"), set on May 19, 2000.
Figure 3. Winds of Cyclone Tauktae from synthetic aperture radar (SAR) at 1:03 UTC, May 17, 2021. Winds as high as 81 knots (93 mph) were measured.NOAA STAR – Center for Satellite Applications and Research
Climate Change Is Increasing Threat of Powerful Arabian Sea Tropical Cyclones
The North Indian Ocean has two tropical cyclone seasons – one centered in May, before the onset of the monsoon, and one centered in October/November, after the monsoon has waned. During the June-September peak of the monsoon, tropical cyclones are uncommon because of interference from the monsoon circulation. Since the introduction of reliable satellite data in 1998 over the Indian Ocean, no category 4 or stronger cyclones were observed until 2010. Since then, six such storms have formed (including Tauktae).
This unprecedented shift in tropical cyclone activity led to a 2017 modeling study by Murakami et al. which concluded that human-caused climate change had increased the probability of powerful tropical cyclones over the Arabian Sea during the post-monsoon period (October/November), and that this risk would increase further in the future – with potentially damaging consequences to the nations bordering the Arabian Sea. In a 2018 review paper ("Tropical Cyclones and Climate Change Assessment: Part I. Detection and Attribution"), all 11 hurricane scientist authors concluded that the balance of evidence suggests that there was a detectable increase in post-monsoon extremely severe cyclonic storms in the Arabian Sea during the 1998 – 2015 period; 8 of 11 authors concluded that human-caused climate change contributed to the increase.
Tauktae formed during the pre-monsoon season (May), so these conclusions do not directly apply to the storm. However, 10 of 11 authors of the 2018 review paper concluded that the balance of evidence suggests that there is a detectable increase in the worldwide average intensity of global hurricanes since the early 1980s. Eight of the 11 authors concluded that human-caused climate change contributed to that increase.
A heads-up: The 12Z May 17 run of the GFS model and the 0Z May 17 run of the European model predicted that the North Indian Ocean's Bay of Bengal would experience a hurricane-strength cyclone in the week of May 23-29.
Reposted with permission from Yale Climate Connections.
Torrential rain caused catastrophic flooding that killed at least 22 people and devastated Waverly, Tennessee on Saturday.
The National Weather Service issued a rare flash flood emergency alert after the storm dumped a record-smashing 17 inches of rain in 24 hours in some places.
Flood waters breached the countertops of Vanessa Yates' kitchen as she punched out a window before her brother and a Good Samaritan with a boat rescued her and her 4-month-old daughter. "I thought I was going to drown with my baby," she told the Tennessean.
Climate change, caused by human extraction and combustion of fossil fuels, is making storms and extreme precipitation like these events more frequent as the warmer atmosphere holds, and can thus release, greater amounts of moisture.
The flooding in Tennessee came just days after flooding tore through western North Carolina as the remnants of Tropical Storm Fred — hitting after four days of rain — killed at least five people, destroyed roads and bridges, lifted homes off their foundations, and displaced around 500 families.
For a deeper dive:
Tennessee: The New York Times, Tennessean, The Washington Post, Tennessean, Axios, AP, BBC, CBS, NBC, ABC, Tennessean; North Carolina: The New York Times, The Washington Post; Climate Signals background: Extreme Precipitation increase
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By Julia Conley
As wildfires swept through the Italian island of Sicily, fueled by an extreme heatwave, officials in one city recorded on Wednesday what is believed to be the highest temperature ever recorded in Europe.
Local meteorologists in Siracusa reported that temperatures reached 48.8ºC or 119.8ºF, breaking the continent's previous record of 118.4ºF, which was set in 1977 in Athens.
The World Meteorological Organization still needs to independently confirm the high temperature. Local reports of the new all-time record are in line with the weather extremes that have been seen in the Mediterranean region.
Firefighters in Sicily and Calabria have carried out more than 3,000 operations in the last 12 hours. Thousands of acres of land have burned, and at least one death was reported in Calabria when a 76-year-old man's home collapsed in flames.
"We are losing our history, our identity is turning to ashes, our soul is burning," Giuseppe Falcomata, the mayor of the historic city of Reggio Calabria, said in a statement on social media.
Francesco Italia, the mayor of Siracusa, told La Repubblica that the area is "in full emergency."
"We are devastated by the fires and our ecosystem — one of the richest and most precious in Europe — is at risk," Italia said.
As Common Dreams reported Wednesday, wildfires driven by extreme heat have devastated other parts of the Mediterranean.
In Algeria, at least 65 people have been killed in wildfires in recent days, including 28 soldiers who had been deployed to battle the flames. Twelve firefighters were also in critical condition in hospitals on Wednesday.
Tunisia recorded its highest temperature ever on Tuesday, registering 49ºC (120ºF).
In Greece, most of the wildfires that have burned through the country this week were under control on Thursday. Surveying the damage, Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis called the fires "the greatest ecological catastrophe of the last few decades."
"We managed to save lives, but we lost forests and property," Mitsotakis said at a Thursday press conference in Athens.
The wildfires started amid an intense heatwave that lasted several days and forced officials to call on firefighters from 24 other countries across Europe and the Middle East to help fight 100 active fires per day.
Mitsotakis did not express confidence that the situation will remain under control in the coming weeks, as the country's wildfire season continues.
"We are in the middle of August and it's clear we will have difficult days ahead of us," the prime minister told reporters.
"The climate crisis — I'd like to use this term, and not climate change — the climate crisis is here, and it shows us everything needs to change," Mitsotakis said.
Reposted with permission from Common Dreams.
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By YCC Team
Climate change increases the risks of many health problems, such as heat stroke and asthma.
"Despite this... my peers and I, as we sat in our first-year medical school lecture halls, we really heard no mention of this whatsoever," says Emaline Laney, a student at the Emory University School of Medicine.
On their own time, Laney and another student studied the connections between climate change and health. And they looked for opportunities in their classes where these connections could be taught.
"We ended up really one by one going through every single lecture we ever went through throughout our medical school curriculum," she says.
They developed a proposal to integrate climate change content into the standard course of study for first-year medical students.
For example, in a class on geriatric medicine, students could learn about the growing risk of dehydration and heat stroke for older adults. When studying infectious diseases, they could learn how warming affects the spread of mosquito-borne diseases.
Emory University approved their proposal. So faculty and students are now working together to make sure tomorrow's physicians are better prepared to practice medicine in a warming world.
Reposted with permission from Yale Climate Connections.
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Long-lasting droughts, unprecedented rainfalls and sudden cold snaps are becoming a reality for people across the country, but accurate forecasting models to predict when the next extreme weather event might hit lags behind, AP News reported.
In response, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) on Monday announced an upgrade to its Global Forecast System, boosting its weather forecasting capabilities across the country. The new model improves its ability to accurately predict hurricanes, rainstorms, snowstorms and other weather events, NPR reported.
"This is going to have a fundamental impact on the forecasts that are provided day to day," Louis Uccellini, director of the National Weather Service, told NPR.
While most weather occurs in the troposphere, the lowest layer of Earth's atmosphere, NOAA's new model will also improve resolution in the stratosphere, the next layer up, helping predict sudden warming events, The Washington Post reported.
The cold snap in Texas and other parts of the southern U.S. in mid-February, for example, was brought on by a "sudden stratospheric warming event" that "spurred the disruption of the polar vortex, which, through a chain reaction of events, unleashed an outbreak of bitter Arctic air," The Washington Post reported. Better resolution in the upper atmosphere will also allow forecasters to track changes in the jet stream, which can carry storms across the country.
"Extreme weather events are becoming stronger and happening more often in a changing climate," Bernadette Woods Placky, chief meteorologist at Climate Central's Climate Matters program, told AP News. But in some cases, federal weather forecasts have not supplied accurate information before extreme weather events occurred, NPR reported.
Before 2012's Hurricane Sandy, for example, the European Center for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts warned of the hurricane well before other forecasting models, USA Today reported. Late forecasting by U.S. models drew criticism from meteorologists who complained their systems lagged behind European counterparts.
Described as a "raging freak of nature," Hurricane Sandy went on to kill 70 people in the Caribbean and almost 150 people in the U.S, and caused at least $70 billion in damages, National Geographic reported.
As the planet continues to warm, hurricanes are expected to become stronger and more destructive, Yale Climate Connections reported. Hurricanes also come with heavy price tags and in some cases have cost more than $100 billion in damages, making the ability to accurately forecast hurricanes well into the future increasingly important. "Weather forecasting improvements that increase accuracy and warning time will give people more time to prepare and will save lives," Placky told AP News.
So far, NOAA's new model has shown improvements in predicting hurricanes. "We found about a 10[%] to 15% improvement in tropical cyclone track and intensity in the Atlantic Basin," Vijay Tallapragada, head of the Modeling and Data Assimilation Branch for NOAA's Environmental Modeling Center, told NPR. This improved accuracy would warn people in the storm's path an additional 36 hours before the hurricane hits land, NPR reported. "These improvements are pretty prominent," Tallapragada told NPR.
Although NOAA's model is an improvement, some meteorologists say it still lags behind European models, The Washington Post reported. "The model is still quite volatile from run-to-run with significant changes that lack consistency," wrote Matt Rogers, a meteorologist at Commodity Weather Group, according to The Washington Post. "While it may have a decimal improvement in skill score, it will likely continue to verify as a weaker model against the European and all the various ensemble guidance."
The Texas power grid is expected to see its highest power demand of 2021 this week with extreme heat expected there and across the country.
The intense power demands raise concerns over the grid's ability to keep the lights on after thousands were plunged into deadly blackouts in February following the failure of the gas system.
Solar installations in Texas have doubled since last year. Daniel Cohan, a professor of civil and environmental engineering at Rice University, told Earther that solar installations could provide "a buffer on hot afternoons." Still, experts are unimpressed with steps taken by ERCOT and Gov. Greg Abbott to address the power grid's shortcomings.
"The governor's been caught with his pants down, and is desperately praying we get through the summer and the next winter and through the primary season," Ed Hirs, a professor of energy economics at the University of Houston, told Earther. "It's a real serious problem. Texans have paid billions of dollars, and we're going to see billions of dollars for these mistakes."
For a deeper dive: