Written by Halle Brown, ESLLC 2017-2018
According to NASA, the global temperature has increased by half a degree Celsius in the last twenty years. This may seem like an insignificant change, but because Earth’s processes exist as a dynamic equilibrium, this small change has detrimental effects. These effects are manifesting as more severe and frequent natural disasters which are costing citizens across the world their lives, loved ones, and property.
Rising global temperatures are causing an increase in evaporation of sea water, adding more moisture to the atmosphere. George Tselioudis, a research scientist at NASA and Columbia University says “if we are creating an atmosphere more loaded with humidity, any storm that does develop has greater potential to develop into an intense storm” which means that an increase in average climate temperatures has the potential to produce severe cyclones because the humidity is providing fuel for the storms. According to NASA’s article “The Impact of Climate Change on Natural Disasters”, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change found that global warming will increase sea levels by approximately two feet. Even if storms don’t become more intense or severe, the rise in sea level will cause more damage when flooded coast lines are hit by cyclones.
Yet, there have been more destructive storms. Just this past year, four category three and above hurricanes have hit the United States causing the death of one hundred and three American citizens and two hundred billion dollars in property damage.
Therefore, half a degree Celsius can have ruinous effects. This warming alters Earth’s natural weather systems to increase cyclone frequency and severity causing the destruction of communities around the world.
Figure 1: A Rising Tide
This figure depicts the number of meteorological, hydrological, and climatological disasters that have occurred from 1980 to 2016.