Picture from space of massive hurricane on earth
Climate

Can Climate Change Cause Natural Disasters?

Climate change has and is going to do a lot of things. If you’ve paid attention to the news in recent years you may have noticed that Hurricanes are getting bigger, tornados are becoming more common, half of India is flooding & the other half is in a massive drought. The climate is definitely changing, but can climate change cause natural disasters?

Well, First of All… What is Climate Change?

Crowd at climate change protest. there is no planet b sign being help up by protestor
Climate Change Protest – 2017

Climate change, in short, is temperatures patterns and climate patterns either regional, global, or both, changing. The climate has been going through warming and cooling phases for hundreds of thousands of years but as of more recently, humans have been involved. Research has shown that CO2 emissions have a strong correlation with the global rise of surface temperatures. When you hear someone talking about climate change, they’re most likely talking about human interference in the change. Okay, now that that’s out of the way, let’s get into the real reason you clicked on this.

Can Climate Change Make Hurricanes, Typhoons, and Cyclones Worse?

Picture from space of massive hurricane on earth
Hurricane from space

Hurricanes, typhoons, and cyclones are one-hundred percent being strengthened by climate change. These storms strengthen over warmer waters and since the surface temperatures of the oceans are rising, so is the strength of these storms.

Storms that used to be once in one-hundred-year storms are becoming once in five-year storms. In the past 24 years, there have been 16 above normal hurricane seasons, that’s the worst on record.

It gets worse… Temperatures are rising fast. If they continue to rise, we will most likely continue to see record-breaking storm seasons every year.

Can Climate Change Cause Floods?

As the planet warms the ice at the north and south poles is melting. Consequently, sea levels are rising. Although, there is flooding threat to city’s and regions below or close to sea level, this is not where most of the flooding from climate change will come from.

As temperatures rise more water evaporates from land water sources and the oceans which causes a warmer atmosphere that can hold more water vapour. This means that when it rains, there is a higher potential for heavy rainfall. Which in turn is the main cause of inland flooding.

chart of global temperature anomalies from 1880 to 2020
chart of global temperature anomalies from 1880 to 2020

Can Climate Change Cause Droughts?

While not all droughts can be attributed to climate change some definitely can. The majority of scientists are linking some of the more intense droughts in recent years to climate change. This is because as more greenhouse gas emissions are released into the air, causing air temperatures to increase, more moisture evaporates from land water sources and the oceans. When there is a drought, the drier soils in that area are less able to absorb the water making them more susceptible to flooding. Like we’ve seen in California when rain does come to these drier areas mudslides & flash floods are common.

chart of the global average sea level rise caused by climate change
chart of the global average sea level rise caused by climate change

Can Climate Change Cause Tornadoes?

The link between tornadoes and climate change is currently unclear. Current data on tornadoes is inconsistent because measuring the presence of tornadoes relies on eyewitness accounts and aftermath damage assessments rather than quantifiable data.

There has been an increase in reported tornadoes but this can be attributed to new technology. Advanced radar allows us to “see” tornadoes that we could not have detected decades ago.

Can Climate Change Cause Wildfires?

Building with van in front of it on fire. Completely up in flames
California wildfires believed to be caused by climate change – 2017

Research has shown that changes in climate, especially earlier snowmelt due to warming in the spring and summer, have led to hot, dry conditions that boost this increase in fire activity in some areas. Large wildfires in the United States burn more than twice the area they did in 1970, and the average wildfire season is 78 days longer. For much of the U.S. West, projections show that an average annual 1-degree Celsius temperature increase would increase the median burned area per year as much as 600 percent in some types of forests.

Can Climate Change Cause Extreme Heat & Extreme Cold Events?

I’ll start off with extreme heat events. In the United States, heat waves are becoming more common and more intense. Heat waves can be extremely dangerous events if people do not take precaution

Over the coming decades, every region of the US is expected to experience hotter temperatures and more frequent and intense heat waves. This worsening heat poses serious health risks, especially for the very young and elderly, construction and agricultural workers, and those living in the core of urban areas.

Extreme winter events might seem counterintuitive since when you think climate change, you probably think global warming. But, in fact, excessive snow can be attributed to climate change in some scenarios. Since there is more moisture in the air due to water evaporating from land water sources and the oceans, when it does snow there is a greater potential for heavy snowfall. Like we’ve seen in some parts of North America, winters are generally becoming shorter.

Can Climate Change Cause Natural Disasters?

Climate change can be blamed for a lot of things. Natural disasters becoming stronger and becoming more common can definitely be attributed to climate change in some circumstances.

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