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Friday, October 07, 2022

Putting on this: Climate change made 2020 storms rainier

Climate change has created a record-breaking deadly 2020 Atlantic hurricane season, a new study says. Scientists said that due to this there is a possibility of rain in this season as well.

Human-caused climate change made the entire season – 30 named storms – drop 5% more rain. Rain was 8% heavier during the 14 storms that reached hurricane status, according to the study in Tuesday’s Nature Communications.

“It doesn’t seem like much, but if you’re near a threshold, a little bit can push you over the top,” said Lawrence Berkeley National Lab climate scientist Michael Wehner, a co-author of the paper. “The implication is that this means there was more freshwater flooding and there was an increase in freshwater flood damage, but how much would require a more detailed analysis.”

While previous studies have predicted that climate change will make hurricanes wetter and that individual storms, such as 2017’s Harvey, were actually wetter due to human-caused climate change, this is the first study to look at the entire season, Weiner said. . This is important because it removes the selection bias of picking the worst storms like Harvey.

“It’s not just big monsters, it’s an entire season,” Wehner said.

It is likely that 2020 is not the only year that climate change caused significantly more rainfall. Study lead author Kevin Reed, an atmospheric scientist at Stony Brook University, said warming is probably increasing in nearly all hurricanes and most hurricane seasons, including those beginning June 1.

And what was the season 2020. It broke the record not only for the number of named storms, but for the number that became major hurricanes with winds of at least 111 mph — seven — and the number that made landfall in the United States. Louisiana was hit five times. Overall, in 2020, named storms killed more than 330 people directly and caused more than $41 billion in damages, according to the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

Hurricanes Laura, Sally, Isis, Zeta, Delta, Eta and Hanna all caused more than $1 billion in damage, most of it from flooding. For example, Laura was 10% wetter than it was without climate change, a separate quick analysis shows, Reid said.

The researchers used computer simulations — updated with frequent real-time observations — to calculate how much water fell during 30 storms and then compared them to a simulated world in which coal, oil and natural gas burned. There was no human-caused climate change. , The difference is what causes global warming. This scientifically accepted technique came up with figures of 5% and 8%.

When scientists looked at just three rain hours of each storm, climate change increased them by 8%, compared to the mythical world without climate change. The study found that for storms that were in hurricane status, peak rainy times resulted in 11% more rain than otherwise.

A basic law of physics is that the atmosphere can hold about 4% more moisture for every degree Fahrenheit (7% more for every degree Celsius). Globally, temperatures have increased by about 2 °C (1.1 °C) since pre-industrial times. And the waters of the Atlantic hurricane basin, which serves as hurricane fuel, have warmed by about 1.3 degrees (.7 degrees Celsius) over the past century, Weiner said.

“This signal will be larger only if sea surface temperatures remain warm,” Reid said.

Weiner said the storms are intensifying, which also makes them wetter.

“The expected increase in storm precipitation is probably the strongest prediction related to hurricane response to climate change,” said MIT atmospheric science professor Kerry Emanuel, who was not part of the study team. But studies are limited in how climate change may affect hurricane track, intensity and frequency, he said.

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