Study: Global Warming Could Make Katrina-Level Storms 10 Times More Likely

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Findings reported in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences indicate that storm surges as destructive as those caused by Hurricane Katrina could happen 10 times more often if global temperatures rise by just two degrees. That would mean the U.S. could see a storm like Katrina every two years.

When Katrina hit New Orleans and other Gulf of Mexico communities in 2005 almost 2,000 people lost their lives and millions were left homeless.

Since 1923, there has been a storm surge as brutal as Katrina about every 20 years. Researchers calculated that with less than half a degree Celsius of global warming, this frequency would double. If temperatures rise by two degrees - the “safe” limit for temperature change set by climate experts - extreme storm surges will become 10 times more common, according to The Daily Mail.

The Northern Hemisphere is changing, with previously frozen areas now growing green grass and trees. “Vegetation growth at Earth's northern latitudes increasingly resembles lusher latitudes to the south,” NASA said after releasing a recent study which looked at 30 years worth of land surface data.

That phenomenon shows how much the climate is really changing “This means there will be a Katrina magnitude storm surge every other year,” said Danish climate scientist Dr. Aslak Grinsted. He led the research. “We find that 0.4 degrees Celsius warming of the climate corresponds to a doubling of the frequency of extreme storm surges like the one following Hurricane Katrina,” said Dr. Grinsted.

He added:

“With the global warming we have had during the 20th century, we have already crossed the threshold where more than half of all ‘Katrinas’ are due to global warming. If the temperature rises an additional degree, the frequency will increase three to four times and if the global climate becomes two degrees warmer, there will be about 10 times as many extreme storm surges.”

Sources: (The Daily Mail); (USA Today)