[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
Your chance to be an investigative journalist in Al Jazeera’s new interactive game.
An innovative rehabilitation programme offers Danish fighters in Syria an escape route and help without prosecution.
Street tension between radical Muslims and Holland's hard right rises, as Islamic State anxiety grows.
Take an immersive look at the challenges facing the war-torn country as US troops begin their withdrawal.
Featured
Private citizens take initiative to help 'irregular' migrants, accusing governments of excessive focus on security.
Indonesia's cassava plantations are being killed by mealybugs, and thousands of wasps will be released to stop them.
Violence in Ain al-Arab has prompted many Kurdish Syrians to flee to Turkey, but others are returning to battle ISIL.
Unelected representatives quietly iron out logistics of massive TPP and TTIP deals among US, Europe, and Asia-Pacific.
Led by students concerned for their future with 'nothing to lose', it remains to be seen who will blink first.