Storms Are Getting Stronger Due To Climate Change

Matt Lillywhite

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Photo of a storm via NASA

Climate change has already made hurricanes and storms stronger over the past few decades, according to MIT's Climate Portal. "Since 1979, climate change has increased the risk that a storm will develop into a 'major' hurricane—at least category 3, with winds over 110 mph—by around 5% every ten years."

Hurricanes are also causing more flooding as a result of climate change and global warming. This is partially due to the fact that storms now deliver more rain than they used to since warmer air carries more water vapor. It's also because storm surges, often the most dangerous element of a hurricane, are becoming more severe. Therefore, hurricanes and storms that hit the United States over the next few decades are likely to be more intense due to climate change.

According to NASA research, climate change-related warming of the oceans might result in a significant rise in the frequency of storms by the end of the century. The research team at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) combed through 15 years of data from NASA's Atmospheric Infrared Sounder (AIRS) instrument over the tropical oceans to find a link between average sea surface temperature and the onset of severe storms. NASA discovered that for every 1.8 degrees Fahrenheit increase in ocean surface temperatures, storm frequency increased by approximately 21%.

"It is somewhat common sense that severe storms will increase in a warmer environment. Thunderstorms typically occur in the warmest season of the year," said Hartmut Aumann from JPL when discussing the NASA research. "Our data provide the first quantitative estimate of how much they are likely to increase, at least for the tropical oceans."

Sadly, storms and hurricanes that hit the United States are also causing a lot more damage. According to NOAA, "The United States saw an unprecedented 18 separate billion-dollar weather and climate disasters in the first nine months of the year." Also, "The first nine months of 2021 have tallied the largest number of disasters in a calendar year so far, with 2021 currently placing second behind 2020."

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