2017 hurricanes

Hurricane season just ended. Looking back on devastating storms like Harvey, Irma, and Maria, you may wonder if climate change played a role. Carl Parker, hurricane specialist with The Weather Channel, says there’s little room for doubt that climate change is making hurricanes more intense.

Parker: “Yes, the atmosphere is changing, we are seeing storms that are different from anything we’ve seen in the past, and yes, the warming of the climate system does play a significant role in this.”

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He says the main reason is warmer ocean waters.

Parker: “It takes a lot of different things to make a hurricane, but all of those things being equal, if there’s more warmth in the oceans then there’s going to be more fuel, more power, for the hurricanes.”

As the world warms, the atmosphere can hold more water vapor, so a single storm can produce more rainfall. And, he says, warming may cause changes to the jet stream that can slow weather systems down, so a storm may stay longer in one place, increasing the damage.

Parker says it can be hard to believe that something as powerful and unpredictable as a hurricane can be influenced by human activity. But …

Parker: “As people have more experience with these things … I think that is going to really change their minds.”

Reporting credit: Sarah Kennedy/ChavoBart Digital Media.

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