Please help keep this Site Going

Menopausal Mother Nature

News about Climate Change and our Planet


Climate change spurred a wetter 2020 hurricane season, says new research –

STATEN ISLAND, N.Y. — The historically-active 2020 hurricane season was made more severe by climate change, new research found, increasing rainfall totals and precipitation rates compared to storms during the pre-industrial era.

A total of 30 named storms — the most ever recorded in a single season — formed in the Atlantic in 2020, bringing devastating effects and 14 systems that reached hurricane status.

The most-extreme three hour rainfall rates and the extreme three-day accumulation amounts were 10% and 5% higher, respectively, than they would have been without current warming conditions, according to the research published in the journal Nature. Those totals rose to 11% and 8% when only considering systems that rose to hurricane strength.

“Hurricanes are devastating events, and storms that produce more frequent hourly rain are even more dangerous in producing damage flooding, storm surge, and destruction in its path,” Dr. Kevin Reed, associate professor and associate dean of Research at the School of Marine and Atmospheric Sciences at Stony Brook University, said in a release.

“Our findings indicate that environmental changes caused by humans are signaling more and quicker rainfall, which have direct consequences for coastal communities and sometimes outlying areas,” said Reed.

Climate change worsens the impact of severe weather events by causing the atmosphere to warm, enabling it to retain more moisture and unleash dangerous levels of precipitation.

Recent United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) reports have indicated not enough is being done to keep temperatures from surpassing 1.5 degrees Celsius above 1850-levels — a critical threshold that would likely spare the planet from the worst effects of global warming.

Human induced-emissions has resulted in more than one degree Celsius of global surface temperature warming compared to 1850, and that increase has caused temperatures in the North Atlantic to rise between 0.4 and 0.9 degrees Celsius during the 2020 season, researchers said.

By using a method called hindcast attribution, the study’s authors were able to quantify the impact of climate change on extreme rainfall throughout the 2020 season — a significant effort, especially since it is difficult to pin-down the effect of globally warming temperatures on weather systems that are affected by a myriad of more-immediate factors like daily weather patterns.

Using a model that estimates the extent of environmental changes caused by humans, the researchers simulated the hurricane season — which officially runs between November and June — and created hypothetical models that estimate the rainfall totals if temperatures were between 0.4 degrees and 0.9 degrees cooler than current levels.

“An increase in hurricane rainfall due to global warming is not surprising,” Michael Wehner, a senior scientist at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and one of the study co-authors, noted in the release. “What is surprising is that the amount of this human caused increase is so much larger than what is expected from increases in humidity alone. This means that hurricane winds are becoming stronger as well.”

Tropical Storm Isaias in 2020 carried lashing winds that downed thousands of trees citywide and knocked out power to tens of thousands of homes on Staten Island. The devastation prompted a multi-day recovery effort to restore electricity.

Last year, the remnants of Hurricane Ida thrashed Staten Island with unprecedented rainfall that caused widespread flooding and a massive emergency response across the borough. The storm caused millions in damage and sparked renewed efforts to improve the city’s resiliency to major storms.

Studies have found insidiously rising global temperatures primarily caused by human-induced emissions are expected to enable storms to develop farther from the equator over the next century, threatening more populated regions like New York City.

The scientists in the most recent study said the findings shed a stark light on the effect of climate change on extreme storms, adding that further modeling should be performed to confirm the analysis of the 2020 hurricane season and to ascertain the effect of higher temperatures on other hurricane seasons.

“These changes in extreme rainfall associated with the North Atlantic hurricane season are an illustration of the likely climate change impacts on tropical cyclone rainfall in other ocean basins,” the study authors wrote.


Please help keep this Site Going