Researchers: Climate change makes August flood more likely
BATON ROUGE - Significant rainfall in August that lead to wide-spread and catastrophic flooding may have been exacerbated by climate change, a team of researchers said in research published quietly on the internet Wednesday.
Extreme rainfall along the Central, U.S. Gulf Coast has become more likely and more intense in the last 116 years as a result of "long-term warming of the planet resulting from human activities such as burning fossil fuels," the report suggested. The research team said it believes climate change increased the intensity of rain between August 12 - 14. During the middle weekend of August, parts of the region sustained more than 30 inches of rain causing flooding that destroyed many homes and businesses in East Baton Rouge, Livingston and Ascension. Thirteen people died as a result of the flooding.
Climate change may also increase the frequency of such an event, scientists said. By comparing the flood to historical records and climate change models, researchers wrote a similar flood is at least 40-percent more likely to occur this century than last.
"By the end of the current century, if greenhouse gases continue to increase as projected, their impact will further increase the probability of an event like the one observed August 12th-14th," scientists wrote.
The research team was made up of Climate Central, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's Geophysical Fluid Dynamics Laboratory (GFDL), Princeton University and the Royal Netherlands Meteorological Institute (KNMI) as part of the World Weather Attribution (WWA). The Red Cross Red Crescent Climate Centre, the University of Oxford and University of Melbourne conducted independent assessments using multiple peer-reviewed approaches for the study.
Read the entire report HERE.
“I'm still not convinced that any single event tells us very much about climate change," Barry Keim, La. State Climatologist said in response to the report. "Having said that, there are some general consistencies between this event and climate change. For example, in a warmer world, the atmosphere would be capable of carrying higher precipitable water values (higher humidity, basically) that in turn could be used to produce higher storm precipitation totals. Also, a warmer sea surface, in this case the Gulf of Mexico and perhaps the Caribbean, could also provide higher evaporation rates to produce the higher humidity levels. So these variables are consistent with climate change. Storm efficiency, on the other hand, is something we really don't know very much about. In other words, why was THIS storm so effective at turning the atmospheric moisture into rainfall and was this efficiency tied to climate change? I don't think there is an answer to that question.”
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