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How climate change makes hurricanes like Harvey worse

posted by Jason Kottke   Aug 30, 2017

How anthropogenic climate change affects single storms like Hurricane Harvey is difficult to say. But from climate data, a couple of things about hurricane trends are clear. While the overall number of hurricanes will decrease due to the effects of climate change, the number of severe hurricanes, those causing the most damage, will increase. And the storms will also be wetter and, when combined with rising sea levels (also caused by climate change), will result in more coastal flooding and damage like we’re seeing now with Harvey.

See also Houston is experiencing its third ‘500-year’ flood in 3 years. How is that possible?

Climatologists say the mechanism by which this is happening is fairly straightforward. “Warmer air can contain more water vapor than cooler air,” according to the 2014 Climate Assessment produced by the U.S. government. “Global analyses show that the amount of water vapor in the atmosphere has in fact increased due to human-caused warming. This extra moisture is available to storm systems, resulting in heavier rainfalls.”