HURRICANE IDALIA: A RECENT EVENT OF CLIMATE CHANGE CONSEQUENCES
By: Ale Griffo
Climate change is increasingly evident through environmental disasters such as hurricanes, which have become more intense.
Without the oceans, the planet would experience higher temperatures due to climate change. Fortunately, the oceans have absorbed around 90% of the heat caused by greenhouse gas emissions in the last 40 years. While most of this heat is contained near the surface, it can still increase the intensity of storms and result in stronger winds. Unfortunately, this year has been particularly severe in this regard.
Storms can deliver more rainfall due to increased moisture in a warmer atmosphere, leading to heavier rain when clouds break.
According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), a 2°C warming could lead to a 10% increase in hurricane wind speeds.
NOAA suggests that the proportion of hurricanes that reach the most intense levels could increase by approximately 10% during this century. Since 1851, less than one-fifth of storms have reached this level of intensity.
This year, El Niño arrived, which is a climate pattern known for moderating the hurricane season in the southern of the United States. Hurricanes require consistent wind patterns to form, but El Niño’s stronger westerly winds can shear off the tops of Atlantic storms before they fully develop into cyclones.
On August 30, 2023, Hurricane Idalia happened on Florida’s Gulf Coast.
Idalia, the third hurricane and ninth named storm of the season, weakened into a post-tropical cyclone and drifted into the North Atlantic Ocean.
Meteorologists and scientists predicted in May that it was going to be a normal Atlantic hurricane season, but it became more dangerous with the event of Idalia.
Why was Hurricane Idalia more dangerous than the previous hurricanes?
The worldwide surface ocean temperatures have been exceptionally warm this year, especially in the Florida Keys area.
Although it is uncertain whether climate change affects Idalia’s behavior or strength, there is strong evidence that these destructive storms are becoming worse.
A team of scientists has reported an increase in the number of North Atlantic hurricanes over the past 150 years, according to their study published in December in Nature Communications. However, further research is underway to confirm these findings.
What measures can state governments take to address climate change events?
State governments have the power to pass laws that can assist low-income neighborhoods in gaining greater control over land and housing. Several tried-and-tested tools are available, including resident-owned mobile home parks.
Finally, resident-owned mobile home parks allow residents to jointly purchase the land.
All of these strategies can help communities keep housing affordable and prevent displacement.
The governor of Florida, DeSantis, announced that the state would purchase more than 400 electric buses with $166 million from a legal settlement. He is also continuing to target water quality improvements.
At the time, the governor praised the move as a positive step for air quality and the state’s transition to electric vehicles but refrained from mentioning climate change.