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  • Richard Bonetti

Climate Change and Hurricane Ian

Updated: Oct 2


Mainstream media coverage of Hurricane Ian in Florida has focused primarily on the devastation to human lives and property damage. With a few exceptions little mention has been made of the relationship to climate change.


However, Bloomberg emphasized that Ian Delivers Stark Reminder of Climate Risks in Booming Florida. "Some 2.4 million properties in Florida — more than one-third of the state’s total — face a greater than 26% chance of being severely affected by flooding within 30 years, according to Risk Factor, a data reporting tool from the nonprofit First Street Foundation."


Time Magazine also reported a study by climate scientist Michael Wehne of Lawrence Berkeley National Lab found that "Climate Change Added 10% More Rain To Hurricane Ian... A long-time rule of physics is that for every extra degree of warmth Celsius (1.8 degrees Fahrenheit), the air in the atmosphere can hold 7% more water."


The New York Times notes that "waters off the coast [western Florida] were also two to three degrees Fahrenheit warmer than usual for this time of year, according to preliminary data from NASA. And a few degrees can make a huge difference, said Karthik Balaguru, a climate scientist at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, because it provides extra energy for a storm... More than 90 percent of the excess heat from human-caused global warming over the past 50 years has been absorbed by the oceans, and a majority of it is stored in the top few hundred meters."


United Nations News says: "The World Meteorological Organization has reminded that climate change is expected to increase the proportion of major tropical cyclones worldwide, and to increase the heavy rainfall associated with these events.

Meanwhile, sea level rise and coastal development are also worsening the impact of coastal flooding."

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) offers a Sea level Rise Viewer. "Use this web mapping tool to visualize community-level impacts from coastal flooding or sea level rise (up to 10 feet above average high tides). Photo simulations of how future flooding might impact local landmarks are also provided, as well as data related to water depth, connectivity, flood frequency, socio-economic vulnerability, wetland loss and migration, and mapping confidence."


Our hearts go out to all those whose lives have been lost or disrupted.

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