[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
More than one-quarter of Gaza's population has been displaced, causing a humanitarian crisis.
Ministers and MPs caught on camera sleeping through important speeches have sparked criticism that they are not working.
Muslim charities claim discrimination after major UK banks began closing their accounts.
Italy struggles to deal with growing flood of migrants willing to risk their lives to reach the nearest European shores.
Featured
Frustration grows in Kiev as pledges to end corruption and abuse of power stagnate after Maidan Square protest.
Thousands of Houthi supporters have called for the fall of Yemen's government. But what do the Houthis really want?
New ration reductions and movement restrictions have refugees from Myanmar anxious about their future in Thailand.
US lawyers say poor translations of election materials disenfranchise Native voters.
US drones in Pakistan have killed thousands since 2004. How have leaders defended or decried these deadly planes?
join our mailing list