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Columnist wrong on climate change — ROBERT HASTINGS COLUMN

17 September 2017

As Hurricane Harvey battered Texas and Louisiana last week, news sources as diverse as Breitbart, MSNBC and Fox News, described what we faced as "catastrophic" "unprecedented", and "potentially the worst flooding event in the state's history".

So what's up with the weather? Additionally, the U.S. Coast Guard began its National Data Buoy Center in 1966, which dramatically expanded data collection capacity.

Dorian Burnette, an Earth Science professor at the University of Memphis, said humans do affect these disasters. "Unfortunately, weather events such as Harvey, extreme events, are part of the way our weather/climate system works". A simple reading of these public records (along with turning to the resource of one's own memory) I counted 183 such storms for the period 2006 thru 2017 including Harvey and Irma. There were seven hurricanes, four of them major, through September 13, 2005, while 2017 has had six hurricanes and three major hurricanes through the same point. The world's records for most intense hurricane (by wind speed) remain tied: Sustained winds of 215 miles per hour for Typhoon Nancy (1961) in the northwestern Pacific Ocean and Hurricane Patricia (2015) in the eastern Pacific Ocean.

"Why did Irma grow so strong?" Irma also sustained those winds for a very long time, and we will be evaluating the data to see if it set a record for the Atlantic basin in terms of longest sustained winds.

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The same issues popped up in Texas, where developers were allowed to circumvent state building codes to construct housing developments on flood-prone acreage. Whether future hurricanes will remain over water or threaten the USA coast again is an unknown variable. However, this does demonstrate the accuracy of our long-term seasonal hurricane predictions as this year was predicted to be an above-average hurricane year. But the World Meteorological Organization released a statement concluding "the rainfall rates associated with Harvey were likely made more intense by anthropogenic climate change". This water vapour then forms clouds, which makes a circular formation, and sucks up the warm air and moisture from the ocean below, adding to their size. The problem is that there are many other factors that also impact hurricanes. These storms caused a drop in temperature without signs of increase for the following week. We also asked a more general question about how much effort people thought should be devoted to planning for the impacts of climate change. The team found that climate change "made the intensity and frequency of such extreme heat at least twice as likely in Belgium, at least four times as likely in France, Switzerland, the Netherlands, and central England and at least 10 times as likely in Portugal and Spain".

Did man's burning fossil fuels increase the warming? How much more strain can be put on the National Flood Insurance Program-already $24 billion in the red from Hurricane Katrina?

"This is the time that the president and the EPA and whoever makes decisions needs to talk about climate change", Tomas Regalado, the Republican mayor of Miami, told The Miami Herald, calling the hurricane "a poster child for what is to come". Climate is "long-term", while meteorology is "short-term".

No rational U.S administration would look at the devastation from Hurricanes Harvey and Irma and seek to deny climate change. Again, that generally is the result of warmer ocean temperatures leading to greater evaporation and, consequently, more fuel for heavier rains. Climate change doesn't create hurricanes, but scientists largely agree it makes them worse.

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When faced with the enormous power of Hurricane Sandy, Weather Underground meteorologist Dr. Jeff Masters stated that he saw a potential link between temperature change and the size of these natural disasters.

In addition, the leveling and paving of roads and housing developments doesn't allow the rains to run off as they would in natural marshlands.

Like many deniers, he attempts to link the warming waters in the Gulf of Mexico to everything except climate change, including El Nino.

To schedule an interview or live broadcast from our radio/HDTV studio on campus, or to receive a press kit with print and broadcast quality photography, reach out to ASU media relations.

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Columnist wrong on climate change — ROBERT HASTINGS COLUMN