Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Texas Flooding Could Be A Preview Of Future Extreme Weather Events

[Huffington Post] Devastating and deadly storms have struck parts of Texas and Oklahoma in recent days, bringing record rainfall and widespread floods that have damaged or destroyed more than 1,000 homes and left at least 16 people dead.
"This is the biggest flood this area of Texas has ever seen," Gov. Greg Abbott (R) said on Monday, according to Reuters. "It is absolutely massive -- the relentless tsunami-type power of this wave of water."
The historic and anomalous nature of the flooding raises an important question: Is this climate change in action? At minimum, the recent downpours in Texas probably offer a glimpse of what certain parts of the U.S. can look forward to in the coming decades.
As the planet continues to get hotter, in large part due to human activity, warmer air in the atmosphere will hold more moisture. This is expected to alter weather patterns and lead to more frequent and more intense instances of extreme precipitation.
For Texas, Oklahoma and Kansas, the annual amount of precipitation that fell during the heaviest 1 percent of events was up nearly 20 percent last decade compared to the average between 1901 and 1960, according to the most recent National Climate Assessment from the federal government.
"Increases in the frequency and intensity of extreme precipitation events are projected for all U.S. regions," the NCA's authors warn.
In its latest report, the United Nations' Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change said that heavy precipitation events in North America and Europe appear to have been growing more frequent and more severe. Furthermore, the panel said, it's "very likely" that these precipitation events will get worse and surface air temperatures will continue to rise in the coming century. Read More