How Global Warming is Strengthening Natural Disasters | Editorial

Welcome back to the series on how global warming is impacting Earth! In the last post, I went into the effects it has on the animal world. How global warming is destroying both habitats and the food chain. I explained that either you believe in global warming, somewhat believe in it, or disbelieve it. I hope that the statistics from the WWF educated you on how devastating it can be to wildlife.

In this part, I’ll be focusing on the impacts that global warming has on Earth’s natural disasters. How temperature changes cause flooding, wildfires, hurricanes, and other storms that can impact millions on lives. Sudden, life-threatening disasters which can ruin homes, separate communities, and cause nationwide panic. Instead of looking at threats coming from other humans, these dangerous storms will cause mass destruction to a vast area.

If Earth increases 4.5 degrees Celsius by 2100, storm surges from a category 4 or 5 hurricane will increase 8 to 21 times.

It is hard to determine if extreme weather incidents are due to global warming. There are many natural cycles that can cause natural disasters such as El Nino. This cycle brings warm water to the central Pacific Ocean which, in turns brings flooding to some regions and droughts to others.1 Conserve Energy Future discusses the impacts and causes of El Nino. There are many reports outlining the impacts that humans have on natural disasters and how global warming is detrimental to the future. Out of the 190 extreme weather events between 2004 to mid 2018, two out of the three events were made more severe by human-induced global warming.2 Three natural disasters out of the 190 would have not formed without global warming.3 This means, not only is global warming increasing the severity of storms, it’s forming new ones for us to deal with. Compared to the 2015 European heat waves, global warming made it four times more likely to happen again to some cities and doubled the chances of having another heat wave across the continent.4 

Why does global warming fuel stronger storms?

It is due to some chemistry. If the air is hotter, there is more water vapour in the air. Warmer air also stores more energy.5 These two factors can impact the Earth’s atmospheric cycles and raise the possibility of having large-scale systems such as an El Nino. Furthermore, temperature increases are leading regions such as the Arctic to warm up. This decreases the difference between the temperature at the poles and at the equator. Air and water around the most populated places on Earth will see more hurricanes, typhoons or cyclones. Moreover, water vapour causes humidity. The more humid the air, the more chance of rain.6 This is why thunderstorms and tornadoes only happen in the summer. Warmer air and humidity increase chances of having downpours and crashes of thunder. Warmer weather also raises the chance of floods in a region. Areas that are experiencing drought conditions do not have the water vapour in the air to create clouds and thus, are suffering from the lack of rainfall.

Global warming is not a far-fetched problem that will be solvable in an instant. It is slow moving storm that is gaining traction on the warm waters we fed it.

These are the following natural disasters are strengthened due to climate change.

Droughts

Droughts are formed when there isn’t much precipitation in an area during a long period, leading to the reduction of moisture in the soil.7 As the moisture evaporates out the soil, plants and other agriculture dries up, contributing to the reduction of food and other living species. Droughts can take months or even years to form, meaning that humans will not see the effects of global warming until it is too late. Droughts are impacted by global warming because increasing temperatures leads to more moisture evaporating.8 Even if the total precipitation stays stagnant in a space, the raising temperatures will evaporate water quicker. However, it is difficult to blame global warming to the escalation of droughts.

Hurricanes/Typhoons/Cyclones

The strongest forms of storms on Earth are hurricanes.9 These spiralling, devastating tempests are disastrous to populated lands. Hurricanes form over warm oceans that have hot, moist air. The air rises upwards, leaving little to no air near the ground, known as a low pressure region.10 Based on how they develop, you can see what global warming can do. Warmer conditions lead to stronger storms. It also leads to more Arctic and Antarctic melting. With sea level rising, storm surges, which are floods that make landfall, are more threatening. The risk of a Hurricane Katrina-level storm surge rose two to seven times for every degree Celsius.11 If Earth increases 4.5 degrees Celsius by 2100, storm surges from a category 4 or 5 hurricane will increase 8 to 21 times. Global warming also decreases the number of small storms such as a category one or two but it raises the likeliness of a category three to five storm.12

Wildfires

Wildfires are becoming a trend around the world. California is burning, so is Russia. With the reduction of moisture in soils, stuff burns more easily.13 A small spark or flame might destroy tons of hectares of land. Global warming is leading to hotter, drier weather in some regions, which are perfect conditions for a wildfire to spread. Wildfires need tinder for it to continuously burn. With warmer temperatures, the Pine Beetles are more likely to kill trees in the Pacific northwest.14 Colder conditions during the winter prevented beetles from feasting on the trees, but with warmer temperatures, there are more dead trees for fires to burn on.15

Global warming is causing havoc to Earth. In the last editorial, you saw the impact it can have on wildlife. But in this post, warmer climates contribute to more powerful storms and flooding which causes destruction to our lives. Global warming is not a far-fetched problem that will be solvable in an instant. It is slow moving storm that is gaining traction on the warm waters we fed it.


Hi! Thanks for reading this post!

What are your thoughts on global warming? Comment below!

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Thanks, Bhavik

Find out what is plaguing the Ontario post-secondary School System in this 4-part series, and how to combat it!


References

  1. Conserve Energy Future
  2. Nature
  3. Nature
  4. Nature
  5. Nature
  6. AGWeek
  7. BBC
  8. LA Times
  9. NASA
  10. NASA
  11. LA Times
  12. LA Times
  13. LA Times
  14. LA Times
  15. LA Times

Featured Image: Wikimedia

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