The Eco News Roundup brings stories and commentary about issues related to climate change, renewable energy and the environment.
“Many textbooks have the 60-inch mark as a once-in-a-million-year recurrence interval,” as the Washington Post Weather Gang reported Sunday.
We’re seeing these staggering rainfall totals because this tropical storm hovered in place for days over southeast Texas, sweeping in vast quantities of moisture from the warm waters in the Gulf of Mexico. And the latest science points a finger at climate change for this.
What can we say about the role of climate change in the unprecedented disaster that is unfolding in Houston with Hurricane Harvey? There are certain climate change-related factors that we can, with great confidence, say worsened the flooding.
Sea level rise attributable to climate change – some of which is due to coastal subsidence caused by human disturbance such as oil drilling – is more than half a foot (15cm) over the past few decades (see here for a decent discussion). That means the storm surge was half a foot higher than it would have been just decades ago, meaning far more flooding and destruction.
In addition to that, sea surface temperatures in the region have risen about 0.5C (close to 1F) over the past few decades from roughly 30C (86F) to 30.5C (87F), which contributed to the very warm sea surface temperatures (30.5-31C, or 87-88F).
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