Storm expert says climate change may have played a big role in Typhoon Haiyan after all

Credit: Cooperative Institute for Meteorological Satellite Studies, University of Wisconsin-Madison
(L) Satellite image of Typhoon Haiyan, superimposed on the spot in the Gulf of Mexico where Hurricane Katrina reached its maximum strength in 2005, and (R) actual satellite image of Katrina. Colors correspond to temperatures in Celsius. Temperatures at the tops of tropical storms roughly correspond to storm intensity, with colder temperatures above generally indicating a more intense storm below.

We’ve heard that climate change likely played a very minor role in the havoc that typhoon Haiyan wrought on the Philippines.

And that’s what we reported in the days right after the massive storm blasted across the country in early November, killing thousands, leaving tens of thousands homeless and destroying huge swaths of the country’s transportation and public services infrastructure.

But in the couple of weeks since then, our primary source for that story has taken a deeper look at the storm and has found that climate change may have played a much bigger role in its damage than he initially thought.

Soon after Haiyan hit, Kerry Emanuel, an atmospheric scientist at MIT and one of the world’s leading experts on tropical storms, told The World that the influence of climate change was probably small.

“Certainly it played a role in one obvious respect,” Emanuel said at the time, “in that sea levels are elevated, and so the storm surge, which is a big killer… was higher than it would’ve been. Beyond that, it’s difficult, and perhaps impossible, to attribute one particular event to any kind of climate signal, whether it’s global warming or el Niño or some other phenomenon.”

….(read more).

Global Climate Change
Environment Ethics

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