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Climate change is increasing hurricanes, tropical storms and floods, scientists confirm – The Independent

Climate change is increasing hurricanes, tropical storms and floods, according to a new study that looked at 120 years of data for the latest research to confirm a link between human activity and the dramatic rise of extreme weather events.  

Increased temperatures not only make heatwaves more extreme and wildfires more likely, they also tamper with weather patterns, making storms more intense. 

As part of the study, scientists looked at three storms in North Carolina from the past 20 years – hurricanes Floyd, Matthew and Florence. 

They found the probability of them occurring randomly in such a short period of time is just two per cent. 

“North Carolina has one of the highest impact zones of tropical cyclones in the world, and we have these carefully kept records that shows us that the last 20 years of precipitation events have been off the charts,” said Professor Hans Paerl, lead author of the study published in the journal Scientific Reports.

1/46 Canary Wharf

A protester gives a thumbs up as he stalls a DLR train at Canary Wharf station in London

Reuters

2/46 City of London

Protesters hold up traffic on Upper Thames Street in the City of London

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3/46 Canary Wharf

Protesters hold a banner as they hold up a DLR train at Canary Wharf station in London

Reuters

4/46 Waterloo Bridge

Officers remove plants that were placed in the occupation of Waterloo Bridge

PA

5/46 Oxford Circus

Police officers arrive at Oxford Circus as they prepare to remove protesters during the fifth day of a coordinated protest by the Extinction Rebellion group, April 19

Getty

6/46 Waterloo Bridge

An activist waters the plants at the occupation on Waterloo Bridge

PA

7/46 Heathrow airport

Undeterred by over 400 arrests, climate change activists continued their demonstration into a fifth day in London with a small protest at the country’s main Heathrow Airport, along with the ongoing protest camps at other iconic locations around the British capital

Reuters

8/46 Oxford Circus

Protesters with the words ‘glued on’ written on their hands hold hands as police officers arrive at Oxford Circus

Getty

9/46 Waterloo Bridge

Officers circle the lorry that serves as the central stage to the Waterloo Bridge occupation, repeating their tactic from a earlier at the Oxford Circus occupation

Reuters

10/46 Oxford Circus

Oxford Circus reopens after being closed for days due to occupation

AFP/Getty

11/46 Waterloo Bridge

Officers prepare to move in on the occupation of Waterloo Bridge

PA

12/46 Waterloo Bridge

Activists relax on a sofa at the occupation on Waterloo Bridge

AFP/Getty

13/46 Oxford Circus

British actress Emma Thompson talks to members of the media from atop the pink boat after police officers surrounded the boat being used as a stage as climate change activists occupy the road junction at Oxford Circus in central London during the fifth day of environmental protesst by the Extinction Rebellion group

AFP

14/46 Waterloo Bridge

An Extinction Rebellion demonstrator is carried away by police on Waterloo Bridge

PA

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Activists on Waterloo Bridge have made a garden for their occupation site, April 20

Reuters

16/46 Oxford Circus

Demonstrators began blocking off a bridge and major central road junctions on April 15 at the start of a civil disobedience campaign calling for governments to declare an ecological emergency over climate change, to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to zero by 2025, halt biodiversity loss and be led by new “citizens’ assemblies on climate and ecological justice”

Reuters

17/46 Oxford Circus

Emma Thompson joins the Extinction Rebellion protest at Oxford Circus. Thompson spoke from the pink boat at the centre of the occupation

AFP/Getty

18/46 Heathrow airport

Extinction Rebellion protesters sit outside Heathrow Airport on April 19

Reuters

19/46 Heathrow airport

Climate protestors hold a demo outside Heathrow Airport

Getty

20/46 Waterloo Bridge

Police officers detain a climate change activist at Waterloo Bridge

Reuters

21/46 Marble Arch

Protesters prepare for another day at Marble Arch as the Extinction Rebellion protests enter their fifth day

Getty

22/46 Oxford Circus

British actress Emma Thompson gives an address from the stage atop the pink boat

AFP/Getty

23/46 Oxford Circus

Actress Emma Thompson takes a photo with a Extinction Rebellion demonstrator

PA

24/46 Oxford Circus

Climate change activists blockade Oxford Circus on the third day of an environmental protest by the Extinction Rebellion group

AFP/Getty

25/46 Waterloo Bridge

Climate change activists stand atop a bus shelter as they take part in a blockade of Waterloo Bridge

AFP/Getty

26/46 Canary Wharf

Police is seen as climate change activists demonstrate during the Extinction Rebellion protest, at Canary Wharf DLR station in London

Reuters

27/46 Waterloo Bridge

Police speak to climate change activists blockading Waterloo bridge

AFP/Getty

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EPA

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Climate change activists, one (right) with her hand glued to the underside of a truck parked across Waterloo Bridge

AFP/Getty

30/46 Oxford Circus

Environmental campaigners protest in the centre of Oxford Circus

Getty

31/46 Jeremy Corbyn’s Home

Climate change activists from Extinction Rebellion protest sit after glueing themselves to the front fence of Britain’s opposition Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn’s house

Reuters

32/46 Marble Arch

Dozens of tents have been pitched at Marble Arch in a large scale occupation

Reuters

33/46 Canary Wharf station

Police remove climate activists who glued themselves on top of a train at Canary Wharf station

EPA

34/46 Oxford Circus

Police forces carry a protester

AP

35/46 Canary Wharf station

A climate change protestor who glued his hand to a window halts a DLR train

AFP/Getty

36/46 Waterloo Bridge

PA

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EPA

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EPA

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PA

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Getty

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Pedestrians and a cyclist pass graffiti drawn by protestors who blocked Waterloo Bridge

AP

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Climate change protestors practice yoga on Waterloo Bridge

AFP/Getty

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A climate change activist gestures while being detained by police officers

Reuters

44/46 Waterloo Bridge

Protestors sit on the road

AP

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PA

46/46 Oxford Circus

AP

1/46 Canary Wharf

A protester gives a thumbs up as he stalls a DLR train at Canary Wharf station in London

Reuters

2/46 City of London

Protesters hold up traffic on Upper Thames Street in the City of London

Getty

3/46 Canary Wharf

Protesters hold a banner as they hold up a DLR train at Canary Wharf station in London

Reuters

4/46 Waterloo Bridge

Officers remove plants that were placed in the occupation of Waterloo Bridge

PA

5/46 Oxford Circus

Police officers arrive at Oxford Circus as they prepare to remove protesters during the fifth day of a coordinated protest by the Extinction Rebellion group, April 19

Getty

6/46 Waterloo Bridge

An activist waters the plants at the occupation on Waterloo Bridge

PA

7/46 Heathrow airport

Undeterred by over 400 arrests, climate change activists continued their demonstration into a fifth day in London with a small protest at the country’s main Heathrow Airport, along with the ongoing protest camps at other iconic locations around the British capital

Reuters

8/46 Oxford Circus

Protesters with the words ‘glued on’ written on their hands hold hands as police officers arrive at Oxford Circus

Getty

9/46 Waterloo Bridge

Officers circle the lorry that serves as the central stage to the Waterloo Bridge occupation, repeating their tactic from a earlier at the Oxford Circus occupation

Reuters

10/46 Oxford Circus

Oxford Circus reopens after being closed for days due to occupation

AFP/Getty

11/46 Waterloo Bridge

Officers prepare to move in on the occupation of Waterloo Bridge

PA

12/46 Waterloo Bridge

Activists relax on a sofa at the occupation on Waterloo Bridge

AFP/Getty

13/46 Oxford Circus

British actress Emma Thompson talks to members of the media from atop the pink boat after police officers surrounded the boat being used as a stage as climate change activists occupy the road junction at Oxford Circus in central London during the fifth day of environmental protesst by the Extinction Rebellion group

AFP

14/46 Waterloo Bridge

An Extinction Rebellion demonstrator is carried away by police on Waterloo Bridge

PA

15/46 Waterloo Bridge

Activists on Waterloo Bridge have made a garden for their occupation site, April 20

Reuters

16/46 Oxford Circus

Demonstrators began blocking off a bridge and major central road junctions on April 15 at the start of a civil disobedience campaign calling for governments to declare an ecological emergency over climate change, to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to zero by 2025, halt biodiversity loss and be led by new “citizens’ assemblies on climate and ecological justice”

Reuters

17/46 Oxford Circus

Emma Thompson joins the Extinction Rebellion protest at Oxford Circus. Thompson spoke from the pink boat at the centre of the occupation

AFP/Getty

18/46 Heathrow airport

Extinction Rebellion protesters sit outside Heathrow Airport on April 19

Reuters

19/46 Heathrow airport

Climate protestors hold a demo outside Heathrow Airport

Getty

20/46 Waterloo Bridge

Police officers detain a climate change activist at Waterloo Bridge

Reuters

21/46 Marble Arch

Protesters prepare for another day at Marble Arch as the Extinction Rebellion protests enter their fifth day

Getty

22/46 Oxford Circus

British actress Emma Thompson gives an address from the stage atop the pink boat

AFP/Getty

23/46 Oxford Circus

Actress Emma Thompson takes a photo with a Extinction Rebellion demonstrator

PA

24/46 Oxford Circus

Climate change activists blockade Oxford Circus on the third day of an environmental protest by the Extinction Rebellion group

AFP/Getty

25/46 Waterloo Bridge

Climate change activists stand atop a bus shelter as they take part in a blockade of Waterloo Bridge

AFP/Getty

26/46 Canary Wharf

Police is seen as climate change activists demonstrate during the Extinction Rebellion protest, at Canary Wharf DLR station in London

Reuters

27/46 Waterloo Bridge

Police speak to climate change activists blockading Waterloo bridge

AFP/Getty

28/46 Waterloo Bridge

EPA

29/46 Waterloo Bridge

Climate change activists, one (right) with her hand glued to the underside of a truck parked across Waterloo Bridge

AFP/Getty

30/46 Oxford Circus

Environmental campaigners protest in the centre of Oxford Circus

Getty

31/46 Jeremy Corbyn’s Home

Climate change activists from Extinction Rebellion protest sit after glueing themselves to the front fence of Britain’s opposition Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn’s house

Reuters

32/46 Marble Arch

Dozens of tents have been pitched at Marble Arch in a large scale occupation

Reuters

33/46 Canary Wharf station

Police remove climate activists who glued themselves on top of a train at Canary Wharf station

EPA

34/46 Oxford Circus

Police forces carry a protester

AP

35/46 Canary Wharf station

A climate change protestor who glued his hand to a window halts a DLR train

AFP/Getty

36/46 Waterloo Bridge

PA

37/46 Waterloo Bridge

EPA

38/46 Waterloo Bridge

EPA

39/46 Oxford Circus

PA

40/46 Oxford Circus

Getty

41/46 Waterloo Bridge

Pedestrians and a cyclist pass graffiti drawn by protestors who blocked Waterloo Bridge

AP

42/46 Waterloo Bridge

Climate change protestors practice yoga on Waterloo Bridge

AFP/Getty

43/46 Waterloo Bridge

A climate change activist gestures while being detained by police officers

Reuters

44/46 Waterloo Bridge

Protestors sit on the road

AP

45/46 Waterloo Bridge

PA

46/46 Oxford Circus

AP

The scientists analysed records of tropical cyclone landfalls and rainfall associated with Costal North Carolina storms since 1898. 

They found that six out of the seven largest hurricanes, tropical storms and floods occurred in the last 20 years. This frequency is probably caused by “increased moisture carrying capacity of tropical cyclones due to the warming climate”, the study said.

As well as more storms, North Carolina has also experienced unprecedented levels of rainfall since the late 1990s. In the long term it has also seen an increase in rainfall from tropical storms over the past 120 years. 

This is increasingly problematic as the state is now home to more than 10.3 million people and climate change is already having a devastating impact on people’s lives. 

“The price we’re paying is that we’re having to cope with increasing levels of catastrophic flooding,” said Professor Paerl, from the University of North Carolina’s Institute of Marine Sciences. 

“Coastal watersheds are having to absorb more rain. Let’s go back to Hurricane Floyd in 1999, which flooded half of the coastal plain of North Carolina. Then, we had Hurricane Matthew in 2016. Just recently we had Hurricane Florence in 2018. These events are causing a huge amount of human suffering, economic and ecological damage.”

Increased rainfall results in more runoff into coastal waters and estuaries. This results in organic matter and nutrient losses from soil erosion which results in damaging algal blooms. 

David Attenborough says he is ‘sorry’ that there are people in power in USA and Australia who still deny climate change

“We are in part responsible for what’s going on in the context of fossil fuel combustion emissions that are leading to global warming,” Prof Paerl said. “The ocean is a huge reservoir that is absorbing heat and seeing more evaporation. With more evaporation comes more rainfall.”

At the end of last year, research found that extreme weather events cost the world billions of pounds in the previous 12 months. 

The report by Christian Aid identified 10 of the most expensive natural disasters that struck in 2018, all of which cost at least $1bn (£790m) each.

The costs established for these events are likely to be underestimates, as they often only included insured losses and did not take into account long-term costs to productivity.

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