Recommended Reading “Hurricanes and Global Warming” By Christopher W. Landsea

I highly recommend the “Opinion Piece” by Chris Landsea that is available at “Hurricanes and Global Warming”.   This insightful write-up is prepared by a world-class hurricane scientist.

Chris makes a prediction based on his view of climate science research. He writes

How May Hurricane Activity Change in the Future?

Again, all of this is not to say that manmade global warming is not real, nor unimportant. My reading of the research does suggest to me that there has been and should continue to be warming of the earth’s climate due to the greenhouse gases of carbon dioxide and methane. And that there should be changes to hurricanes caused by this manmade global warming. But as described earlier, simply linking hurricanes to global warming is not sufficient. Quantifying the changes is critical for understanding how such alterations will affect mankind and coastal ecosystems.

My interpretation of the climate change research suggests the following – assuming that there is a significant 2-3°C (4-6°F) global warming due to business-as-usual emissions (which is not a guarantee):

Overall Tropical Storm and Hurricane Changes Due to Global Warming by 2100

Frequency: Numbers may see a moderate decrease (~25%)
Wind (Intensity): Small increase (~3% stronger)
Storm Surge: Small increase (~3% higher) produced by the hurricane (but also must add on additional amount from overall sea level rise)
Rainfall: Moderate increase per cyclone (~10% within ~325 km [200 mi]), but reduced overall numbers may offset increase per cyclone
Genesis Location/Track: Somewhat uncertain, but no indications of large changes

These overall changes that may occur are relatively tiny and are several decades away, in my opinion. These conclusions are similar, though slightly smaller, than those indicated by a review panel of the topic of hurricanes and global warming that was recently published in Nature Geophysics in which I participated.

What is much more important is the massive population buildup along the U.S. coastline and in countries of the Caribbean and Central America. Such increases in coastal inhabitants (not global warming) make mankind dramatically more vulnerable to hurricanes today than in the past with thousands at risk of injury or death along with damage totals in the tens of billions of dollars when a strong hurricane strikes. As an example, this figure shows the combination of Florida’s coastal county population along with major hurricane strikes by decade during the 20th Century.

While Chris has much more confidence than I have in the ability to predict future climate, I certainly agree with his conclusion that “[w]hat is much more important is the massive population buildup along the U.S. coastline and in countries of the Caribbean and Central America. Such increases in coastal inhabitants (not global warming) make mankind dramatically more vulnerable to hurricanes today than in the past.”

My son is an expert on this subject, and he discusses this subject in our book

Pielke, R.A., Jr. and R.A. Pielke, Sr., 1997: Hurricanes: Their nature and impacts  on society. John Wiley and Sons, England, 279 pp

as well as in his more recent publications; e.g.

The Climate Fix.

I recommend readers look at the entire write-up that Chris has prepared.

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