Climate Change is Worsening the Intensity of Natural Disasters at Home & Abroad
If you’ve been watching the news, you might notice that extreme floods and hurricanes are becoming more frequent and destructive than ever before. Floods have become more common as the Earth's temperature rises due to climate change. Hurricanes are intensifying faster than ever before as oceans warm. What’s more is that earthquakes occur more frequently as tectonic plates shift under increased pressure from melting glaciers or rising sea levels caused by climate change– meaning there may be more tsunamis in our future, too!
Climate change is worsening extreme weather events.
We know that climate change is a fact, and it's happening right now. While the effects may not be immediately obvious in your daily life, they're happening all around us. The rise in sea levels due to global warming is causing more frequent flooding and stronger hurricanes in all regions of the world. As a result of our reliance on fossil fuels, we've polluted the atmosphere with greenhouse gases—and these gases are trapping heat near Earth's surface and increasing the intensity of extreme weather events like hurricanes and severe floods.
North Atlantic tropical storms in the United States are affected by this. They aren’t increasing in frequency, but they are increasing in intensity and length of time. These storms are stalling near coastal areas and moving slower than ever.
Slow-moving hurricanes are more destructive than fast-moving ones. This is because the slow speed of a storm gives it more time to dump heavy rain over a larger area. Climate change is causing hurricanes to move slower, which means they can cause greater damage overall.
Sea level rise also plays a major role here. It’s already making coastal storms more damaging, and the trend is expected to continue. As sea levels increase, flooding becomes more common—and when combined with storm surges, it can become catastrophic, as it did in Florida this year.
The actual intensification of the storms can be attributed to the warmer temperatures of the ocean. Warmer oceans evaporate at a faster rate. Evaporation is one of the main drivers of atmospheric moisture content. As sea temperatures rise, so does evaporation, and so does water vapor in the atmosphere— more energy available to fuel hurricanes.
Nature is striking back at us because of how we've polluted the atmosphere over time through industrialization and excessive use of fossil fuels. We can prevent future generations from experiencing similar destruction from extreme weather conditions!
2022 has seen more catastrophic flooding than ever before.
Extreme flooding can affect large areas of land and destroy property, infrastructure, and livelihoods. The impact of flooding can be devastating for communities that are already struggling to cope with poverty, malnutrition, or conflict. Flooding can also lead to the spread of diseases such as cholera, when water supplies are contaminated with sewage waste after heavy rains wash it into rivers and floodplains.
2022 has been, yet again, a historic year in terms of natural disasters. Hurricanes in the United States have entirely wiped away entire towns in Florida and Puerto Rico. Regions in Australia that dealt with record-breaking wildfires just two years ago are now dealing with record-breaking floods! Plus, areas in Southeast Asia and Africa are getting a ton of rain, too. Read on to learn more about the floods in Florida, as well as Pakistan this year.
Over the past few months, the United States has experienced several large storms responsible for billions of dollars in damage. Hurricane Fiona dumped historic amounts of rainfall on Puerto Rico in September, causing severe flooding, mudslides, home damage, and power loss across the island. More recently, Hurricane Ian decimated coastal towns in Florida, completely wiping out houses, streets, and neighborhoods with its waters.
Hurricane Ian also experienced a phenomenon known as rapid intensification—a process where the inner core of a hurricane strengthens very rapidly during its development. This can cause major flooding from rainfall and storm surges, as well as strong winds that can reach up to 200 miles per hour. The worst part about rapid intensification is that scientists have found it difficult to predict. Rapid intensification happens fast, as the name suggests, and meteorologists are scrambling to understand why these historic storms are occurring.
Hurricane Ian has caused major property damage in Florida, with $47 billion worth of homes and businesses destroyed thus far. The storm surge was as high as 18 feet when it hit the state. See a rare video of a woman in her home as the flood waters surge.
As of October 20th, 114 people were killed by the storm, and more than half a million people were displaced and are still without homes. This is just the latest example of how climate change affects weather patterns around the world: With higher-than-average temperatures coming from global warming, hurricanes are becoming stronger and more frequent than ever before.
Flooding in Pakistan
Pakistan's flooding started in July and has killed over 1,700 people since then. These floods have affected more than 20 million citizens. It is the worst in Pakistan's history, with more than a third of the country under water and an estimated 13 million internally displaced people. The floods are caused by heavy monsoon rains and melting glaciers. It is not yet seen when the people of Pakistan will find relief, or how they will rebuild after this destruction.
Scientific analysis has shown thus far that these floods were likely worsened by climate change. The research also shows that warming ocean temperatures will make the monsoon season more unpredictable in the region, creating more severe droughts and floods without warning. Scientists are estimating that 75% more water is falling during weeks when monsoon rains are the heaviest.
Extreme weather events are hurting the world's most vulnerable communities.
Climate change is a global catastrophe that keeps on giving. Every year seems to bring a new set of disasters. Floods have spiked in the last several years. 2022 was a record year for devastating floods around the world. The financial impact of these floods will be unprecedented as they continue to disproportionately impact vulnerable communities that don't have the funds, infrastructure, resources, or political support to fully recover and cope with their losses. To make matters worse, these floods are happening in conjunction with rising sea levels and hurricanes.
We all need to step up and do something about climate change if we want to help these regions facing incomparable loss due to rising sea levels, floods, and hurricanes.