[QODLink]
Weather
More impacts of climate change
Storm surges and tornadoes are more likely in the coming years thanks to global warming
Last Modified: 26 Feb 2012 11:47
Joplin, Missouri after a devastating tornado in 2011 [GALLO/GETTY]

The issue of climate change is often talked about simply in terms of the predicted rise in temperature. It is generally acknowledged that a global increase in temperature before the end of the century above two degrees Celsius would be catastrophic.

Yet long before the end of the century, even the small changes in temperatures we have seen over the last 20 to 30 years are believed to be having significant impacts on the climate.

Whilst no one is claiming that the deadly tornado season of 2011 in the United States was solely the result of climate change, it is likely that increasing water temperatures in the Gulf of Mexico spawn greater numbers of thunderstorms which feed off the warm waters. Wherever there are thunderstorms there is greater risk of tornadoes.

On this basis, Accuweather.com predict that the 2012 tornado season is likely to be ‘above average’.

The 2011 season caused almost $30 billion in damages and killed more than 550 people. The death toll was the highest on record partly because the strongest tornadoes hit populated areas such as Joplin, Missouri and Birmingham, Alabama rather than the open plains of Kansas, Oklahoma and Texas.

This eastward displacement of tornadoes from the usual ‘Tornado Alley’ is thought to be the result of La Nina, which, in turn, may be influenced by global warming.

In a separate study at Princeton University and Massachusetts Institute of Technology, researchers predict that storm surges – walls of water propelled by hurricanes and other major storm systems – are likely to increase. Flooding events which, in the past, occurred once in a hundred years could now happen every 3 to 20 years.

Such statistical re-evaluations of major flooding events is likely to have an impact for the insurance industry which will have to reconsider its risks and premiums.

Source:
Al Jazeera
Topics in this article
Country
City
Organisation
Featured on Al Jazeera
The author argues that in the new economy, it's people, not skills or majors, that have lost value.
Colleagues of detained Al Jazeera journalists press demands for their release, 100 days after their arrest in Egypt.
Mehdi Hasan discusses online freedoms and the potential of the web with Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales.
A tight race seems likely as 814 million voters elect leaders in world's largest democracy next week.
Featured
Activists say 'Honor Diaries' documentary exploits gender-based violence to further an anti-Islamic agenda.
As Syria's civil war escalates along the Turkish border, many in Turkey are questioning the country's involvement.
Treatment for autism in the region has progressed, but lack of awareness and support services remains a challenge.
The past isn't far away for a people exiled from Crimea by Russia and the decades it took to get home.
New report highlights plight of domestic helpers in the United Kingdom, with critics comparing it to kefala system.
join our mailing list