The Effects of Global Warming on Weather: Storms, Hurricanes and More

With news headlines about deadly hurricanes, massive flooding , and severe droughts in the, you may be wondering whether these extreme weather events have anything to do with climate change.

If so, you’re not alone.

Global warming contributes to both floods and droughts

Flooding

The U.S. Climate Change Science Program issued a report predicting an increase in extreme weather in North America, including both floods and droughts, as a result of global warming. There is strong evidence that that heavy downpours will become more common and more severe along with the rise in global temperature.

Droughts

But what, you might ask, does this have to do with droughts? As director of the National Climatic Data Center Thomas Karl explains, “When it rains, it rains harder and when it’s not raining, it’s warmer – there is more evaporation, and droughts can last longer.” [1]

The effect on hurricanes

The evidence on hurricanes is more mixed. Some scientists have hypothesized that warmer ocean surface temperatures will lead to an increase in hurricanes and tropical storms, but this may not actually be the case.

Hurricanes may become less frequent as the temperature of the Atlantic Ocean rises, suggests a recent study in Nature Geoscience. However, the study, which relies on historical weather data and computer simulations, does suggest that heavy rainfall may increase from storms that do not reach tropical storm status. [2]



Sources:


[1] CBS News

[2] Nature News


Author: Brown, Nathan. A Cooler Climate, 2008.

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