Climate Change and hurricane Irma
Hurricane Irma has become the most powerful Atlantic hurricane on record, with its sustained winds of over 185 miles per hour for more than 24 hours. It has therefore been ranked in category 5 on the Saffir-Simpson scale. This hurricane made its landfall in the Caribbean last Wednesday and was brought it ashore in Florida destroying a lot of properties.
Hurricane Irma is among the strongest Atlantic hurricanes on record, being classified in Category 5, the highest. This hurricane has become one of the biggest ever recorded, due to combination of natural and manmade causes. In fact, hurricane seasons like this one are becoming more and more usual because of human activity. Hurricanes get their destructive energy from the warmth of the ocean and the atmospheric temperature of the region. They have a theoretical maximum intensity, depending on how strong their winds can blow, given ocean and atmospheric temperature.
The question that arises is whether or not Climate change can badly influence the impact of hurricanes, even if it’s not the initial cause. Scientific evidence demonstrates that our fossil fuel emissions makes hurricanes more destructive. As a matter of fact, hurricanes such as Irma keep going strong due to the lack of cold wind and the rise of hot water temperature, a consequence of climate change. Warm air holds more water vapor.
We, humans, are guilty of provoking warmer temperatures, causing the uprising of sea levels and the heating of oceans, changing then the way storms form. Now any storm surge is happening on top of a higher ocean’s initial level, leading to more coastal flooding, in turn, that helps to make the hurricane more devastating.
According to the 2014 National Climate Assessment, the intensity, frequency and duration of North Atlantic hurricanes have increased since the early 1980s. Hurricane Irma, like Hurricane Harvey, were not caused by climate change. But the horrifying destruction it has sent across the Atlantic might have been.
The worst part is that the poorest, being the most exposed to many climate risks, are often the least protected, making them then the most affected.