Year after year, it’s hard to predict how bad it will be hurricane season being. But scientists say climate change makes hurricanes worse, especially when it comes to how destructive they are when they hit land.
Dr. Kristen Corbosiero is an Assistant Professor of Atmospheric and Environmental Sciences at the University at Albany. It studies the structure and change in intensity of tropical cyclones.
“We can definitely see changes in the impacts of the hurricane and we think they will continue to get worse,” Corbosiero said.
When Corbosiero talks about impacts, she’s referring to the path of destruction a hurricane leaves when it hits a community, such as homes, businesses and people. said Corbosiero sea level rise one of the clearest ways climate change affects the devastation caused by hurricanes.
“When hurricanes come ashore, they bring water with them,” Corbosiero said. “Think about the Katrina floods, and that was, you know, over 15 years ago.”
“More water will come ashore,” Corbosiero continued. “And we know that this kind of washing ashore is really the number one killer of people in hurricanes.”
It’s not just sea level rise that she’s worried about. A recent study in the journal Science Advances, published in April, shows how climate change may encourage more hurricanes to make landfall in parts of the United States.
“I liked this study because they weren’t trying to say there’s going to be more storms or they’re going to be more intense, but the storms that do form are more likely to make landfall, which affects people,” Corbosiero said.
The study specifically said that landfall could occur more in the southeastern US, particularly Florida, and potentially less inland in the Northeast.
“And that was due to storms moving in the atmosphere in different ways.” climate warming,” Corbosiero said. “That’s what this study predicts, 40-plus years from now, is that our changing climate will affect these storms regardless of whether they hit the U.S. or not.”
Corbosiero said scientists are less certain about other links between hurricanes and climate change, as if there will be more in the future.
“In terms of being able to attribute climate change and the intensity or increase in the number of hurricanes, it’s hard to really be able to attribute things to specific causes,” she said.
Corbosiero said one reason is that they base their predictions for the future on past patterns, and they simply don’t have enough historical data to do so.
“And I know that’s not a very satisfying answer,” she said. “That’s not a satisfactory answer for me as a scientist, but I think we should be honest about what we know and what we’re most sure of, and then about what we’re less sure about.”
There is a wider impact of hurricanes than just those who live along the coast. Hurricanes continue to cause the most destruction of any recorded weather disaster in U.S. history, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
When it comes to the number of U.S. hurricanes, government estimates say that over the past 40 years they have caused more than $1.1 trillion in damage and are responsible for nearly 6,700 deaths.