What Did We Learn About Climate Change From Hurricane Harvey, Irma and Maria?

Climate experts are reporting 2017 to be the worst hurricane season in the 166 years that hurricanes have been recorded. The worrying thing is that Harvey, Irma, and Maria were Category 4 and 5 storms. Climate experts say that there have been only 18 Category 5 landfalls in these 166 years, yet Irma and Maria made 6 separate landfalls including those that devastated the island of Puerto Rico.

Hurricane Harvey dumped 19 trillion gallons of water and caused massive flooding in Texas and Louisiana. Hurricane Irma had winds with sustained speeds of over 185 mph lasting for 37 hours to become the most intense storm ever recorded. Hurricane Maria pounded the Caribbean and Southeast US with 100 mph winds and 30 inches of rain. All this happened in a span of four weeks. Is the world to expect an increase in these types of storms?

Energy dissipation

Hurricane's are nature's way of dissipating energy from the tropics towards the poles. This is because, the tropics 23 degrees north and south of the equator, receive more sunshine and accumulate heat energy higher than the areas near the poles. Hurricanes form and take in this energy carrying it in the form of spinning air and water heading away from the tropics.

Warmer sea temperatures lead to higher evaporation of the sea water and the warmer air causes this evaporated water to rise. The warmer the air, the more it holds in evaporated water. Experts say that for every rise of 1 degree centigrade, the air will hold 7% more water. This means that warmer weather will continue to encourage more intense storms.

Climate experts tracking rain patterns since 1900 have since an increase in 3-day rain average totals by 10%. With the US expected to experience a 3.5 degrees rise in temperature by 2050, this can only mean the incidences of these types of storms will be seen more frequently.


The fact is that global temperatures will continue getting warmer if nothing much is done to combat climate change in a meaningful way. Climatologists say that the temperatures are rising faster than expected such that the effects of climate change will start to be even more apparent in the very near future.

The three storms have shown the world that the effects of climate change are not limited to melting glaciers in the North Pole, and droughts in Africa. With the damage caused by Hurricane Harvey in Texas alone estimated to be above $180 billion, the effects of climate change will soon touch and have an impact on everyone in the world.

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