General, Research, Technology

Scientists have warned of the worst hurricanes in 2020: where do they come from?

2020 Atlantic hurricane seasonmay become one of a kind - and not in a good way. By August 6, nine storms had passed through the area, strong enough to be given their own names. Usually, such a number of severe weather events appear only in early October. The U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration expects 2020 to be the period the most powerful hurricanes in the last 22 years observations. Looking at the devastation and heat waves caused by Hurricane Laura in late August in Louisiana and Texas, one wonders: is climate change contributing to these storms so much?

Hurricane Charlie in 2004 became one of the most powerful in history

There are many ways in the arsenal of scientistsmeasure how severe a hurricane is and how much damage it can cause. But when it comes to determining what exactly causes such devastating disasters, researchers are not always able to agree.

Where do hurricanes come from

The appearance of many hurricanes that occurin 2020 is actually not so much connected with the storms in the ocean themselves. Instead, it is how hurricanes interact with another byproduct of climate change, sea level rise, that has an impact.

In the scientific community, we are most confident inthat hurricanes will rise as sea levels rise, says Andra Garner, an environmental scientist who studies hurricane floods and climate change at Rowen University in New Jersey.

As glaciers melt and water spreadsinland, storm currents, which then cause hurricanes, will intensify. If you have ever taken a bath, you will surely understand what this is about. When a person is immersed in water, the amount of water that subsequently ends up outside the bath (and this happens) directly depends on how full the bath itself is.

Do you know what height was the biggest tsunami? The answer is here.

Climate change will also make hurricanes moreintense - as a result of a climatic shift that scientists expected only 10 years later. But it is already happening. For a hurricane to form, the ocean temperature must be above 27 degrees Celsius. Warm waters evaporate and release heat, filling the atmosphere above them with moisture, which a passing thunderstorm can easily turn into a hurricane. Logically, if climate change makes the oceans even warmer, then these important hurricane "ingredients" - moist air and heat - will cause even more severe storms.

Warm water evaporates and is picked up by thunderstorms

It's scary to imagine how strong the hurricanes will be by 2030 if climate change does not stop, says Pedram Hassanzade, a hydrodynamics researcher at Rice University.

A recent study of storms over the past 40 years has shown that the likelihood of hurricanes reaching the highest wind speed categories increases every year.

Hurricane aftermath

Assess potential hurricane damage oftenvery difficult. For example, a hurricane can do more wind and water damage if it takes longer to travel overland. The slower the storm moves, the more water it brings. Hurricane Harvey, for example, moved quickly at first and then slowed down for several days, pouring tons of water onto Texas and Louisiana.

Aftermath of Hurricane Michael in 2018 in Florida, USA

Scientists suggest that hurricanes in 2020will travel more slowly across land in parts of North America, in part because climate change is affecting wind. Without gusts of wind that drive the hurricane further, the amount of precipitation from the impending disaster may increase. However, when scientists and his team examined hurricanes in Texas, they found that over time, these hurricanes can move faster. However, a slow hurricane will obviously do more damage than a fast one.

On September 1, a hurricane hit the northern part of the Bahamas called "Dorian", which is considered the most powerful in the United States over the past 30 years. Look at the damage done.

Can a hurricane be prevented?

Unique footage of the formation of hurricane Katrina

Preventing potential damage, of courseone of the reasons why researchers are studying how climate change will affect these hurricanes. The more the coastal community knows about the risks they face - high winds, heavy rains, storm currents and more - the better they can each prepare for the coming storm.

But this is not about raising a house on stilts or providing yourself with food for several weeks (although not without it). These preparations should include climate change prevention... Yes, some reasons provoking moredestructive and dangerous hurricanes such as rising sea levels are an inevitable part of our future, but reducing air emissions could prevent more nightmarish scenarios from coming true.

Hurricanes this year can be incredibleterrible and scary, says Garner, but if we act, we can avoid the worst-case scenario, which we already see in our research.