Hurricanes And Climate Change : The Effects Of Climate Change

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According to CNN, in late August 2017, hurricane Harvey hit land causing $75 billion dollars’ worth of damage and causing the deaths of 82 people as it tore through Texas with winds exceeding 130 mph and pouring 27 trillion gallons in less than a week. A week later hurricane Irma hit the Caribbean as a category 5 storm devastating the islands with 125 mph winds and claiming the lives of 61 people before weakening over the Florida coast. 10 days later hurricane Maria hits Dominica and Puerto Rico, also a category 5 storm. 70,000 people were evacuated as dams are feared to burst and power was lost to the entire island of Puerto Rico. 60 people died (“2017 Atlantic Hurricane”, 2017). Hurricanes, cyclones and typhoons play a major role in coastal disasters and could prove even more disastrous with the effects of climate change. Hurricanes form as warm moist air begins to rise over the sea surface and leaves a gap of low pressure underneath. High pressure air then fills this gap, heats up, and then rises again. This creates the cyclonic action (“How Hurricanes Form”, 2017). These types of events require a minimum sea surface temperature of 26.5 degrees Celsius, or roughly 80 degrees Fahrenheit and a depth of at least 60m (Michener et al, 1997) and as the temperature increases globally as does the possible effect on hurricanes. The Emergency Events Database (EED) shows that the frequency of hydrological natural disasters has more than quadrupled since 1970 (Figure 1) and category 5 storm likelihood is said to double for every degree Celsius increase in global temperature (Lopez et al, 2015). However, Figure 1 Global Frequency of Natural Disasters by Type (1970-2014) From: (Lopez et al. 2015)

due to the advent of satellite observation, data prior to 1981 was technologically limited (Walsh et al, 2012). Studies suggest that storm intensity could increase from 2-11% by the end of the century as a result of greenhouse gas emissions but that the total number of cyclones is projected to drop by 6-34% (Knutson et al, 2010). It is suggested that the reason for this is that the requirements for cyclone formation will have an increased minimum in sea surface temperature by model projection (Walsh et al,

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