Ten years ago this month, Hurricane Katrina devastated New Orleans. What have we learned since then about climate change and its potential effects on future hurricanes? Professor Kerry Emanuel addresses just that in a recent editorial in the Conversation that was reprinted in the Washington Post.
Emanuel, the Cecil and Ida Green Professor of Earth, Atmospheric and Planetary Sciences, notes, for example, that “as sea level increases at an accelerating pace, we can expect more devastating coastal flooding from storms.”
He also points out that “virtually every study that has been done, dating back to 1987” shows an increasing potential intensity of coming hurricanes, or the upper limit on their wind speeds. “The average trend is about 10 miles per hour for every degree centigrade of tropical sea surface temperature increase.”
Further, data show “that storms are reaching their peak at higher latitudes,” which “may portend reduced risk in some of the deep tropics but increased risk in middle latitudes.”