Ask a Scientist: Hurricanes and Climate Change

Does this year’s devastating hurricane season make you wonder what is behind all these powerful storms?
At Dream in Green, we believe in the power of science and education. In our new ‘Ask a Scientist’ series, we sat down with atmospheric scientist at University of Miami’s Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science, Dr. Amy Clement, to learn about what the scientific community does and doesn’t know about the links between hurricanes and climate change.
The links between climate change and hurricanes are some of the most challenging for the scientific community to understand.  While there are still many scientific questions (and the science is improving all the time), what we do know is that warmer sea surface temperatures create an environment where storms can flourish.  Water temperatures in the Gulf region, for example, have risen sea about 0.5C (close to 1F) over the past few decades from roughly 30C (86F) to 30.5C (87F).  Warmer ocean temperatures mean more moisture in the atmosphere, creating the potential for much greater rainfall and flooding with storm events.  Additionally, some 9.5 inches of sea level rise in south Florida has been documented in the last century, causing storms that do make landfall to have greater impact in the form of increased surge and flooding.
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