We would like to think of natural disasters as incidents that occur only once in a blue moon, yet studies show that horribly destructive storms are becoming more common. Research by climatologists recently reported in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences compared historical storm surges with a host of climate model predictions. They found that with global warming, more than half of modern Katrina-sized storms are the result of climate change. With an increase of only 0.4 degrees Celsius, the frequency of massive storm surges doubles. If the temperature rises by 2 degrees Cesius, the chance of such catastrophic events will be 10 times more likely to occur.

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Between Katrina, Sandy, record droughts, and crippling snowstorms, the United States is already feeling the effects of climate change. At the rate we are releasing greenhouse gasses into the air, climate scientists are sending out warnings about what we can expect in the future. Since 1923, a hurricane the size of Katrina only came around once every two decades. Due to human activity, a 1 degree Celsius rise in overall temperature would produce a three-to-four fold rate of increased serious natural disasters. If the earth reaches a 2 degree Celsius jump, the likelihood of Katrina-sized storms could become 10 times more common.

Dr. Aslak Grinsted, the lead researcher of the  study from the University of Copenhagen, also noted that sea levels were slated to rise as a result of global warming. This wold further inundate vulnerable low-lying coastal areas, making storm surges more destructive. If ever there was a time to start making drastic changes to the way we produce and consume energy, that moment is now.

+ University of Copenhagen

Via Daily Mail

Images via NOAA and the US Air Force