Climate Change Fuelling Hurricanes


    In Context

    • Recently, Hurricane Fiona hit the Dominican Republic and Puerto Rico.

    Correlation of Climate change & hurricanes 

    • About:
      • Although scientists have not yet concluded that Fiona’s behaviour or severity was influenced by climate change, there is compelling evidence that these catastrophic storms are getting worse.
    • Change in nature of hurricanes:
      • Hurricanes are becoming wetter, windier, and generally more powerful as a result of climate change. Additionally, there is proof that it is making storms move more slowly, allowing them to dump more water in one location. 
    • Creating grounds:
      • Temperature:
        • Climate change would have caused the earth to become much hotter if it weren’t for the oceans. 
        • However, over the past 40 years, the ocean has absorbed 90% of the warming brought on by emissions of heat-trapping greenhouse gases. 
        • Near the water’s surface, the majority of this ocean heat is concentrated. 
        • Stronger winds and increased storm severity may result from this added heat. 
      • Moisture:
        • Additionally, a storm’s ability to produce more rainfall can increase due to climate change. 
        • A warmer environment can store more moisture, thus water vapour accumulates until clouds form and raindrops are released, sending down heavy rain.
    • Frequency of hurricanes:
      • The normal “season” for hurricanes is changing as a result of climate change since more months of the year are becoming storm-friendly. 
        • Additionally, hurricanes are making landfall in places that deviate greatly from the historical norm. 
      • However, it’s uncertain whether climate change is having an impact on the frequency of storms. 

    How do hurricanes form?

    • Warm ocean water and humid, moist air are the two key components needed for hurricanes. 
      • Warm seawater evaporates, releasing heat energy into the atmosphere. 
      • The storm’s winds become stronger as a result. Without it, hurricanes can’t become stronger and will eventually die.

    Cyclone, typhoon, hurricane – what’s the difference?

    • These large storms have varied names based on where and how they formed, although theoretically being the same phenomenon. 
    • Hurricane: 
      • When storms that develop over the Atlantic Ocean or the central and eastern North Pacific attain wind speeds of at least 74 miles per hour, they are referred to be “hurricanes” (119 kilometres per hour). They are referred to be “tropical storms” up until that moment. 
    • Typhoons:
      • Typhoons in East Asia are the name given to ferocious, spinning storms that develop over the Northwest Pacific.
    • Cyclones:
      • “cyclones” develop across the Indian Ocean and South Pacific.

    Impact of Climate Change in India

    • Extreme Events:
      • The Indian Meteorological Department (IMD) has sighted that 2022 has seen the second highest extreme events since 1902. 
        • Persistence of intense La Nina conditions, 
        • The abnormal warming of East Indian Ocean, 
        • Negative Indian Ocean Dipole (IOD), 
        • Southward movement of most of the monsoon depressions and lows and 
        • Pre-monsoon heating over the Himalayan region are melting glaciers. 
        • This is a very complex mix.
      • Recent research indicates that monsoon rainfall became less frequent but more intense in India during the latter half of the 20th century. 
    • Triple-dip la Nina:
      • WMO recently predicted that La Niña conditions, which involve a large-scale cooling of ocean surface temperatures, have strengthened in the eastern and central equatorial Pacific with an increase in trade winds.
      • India is seeing an extended spell of the La Nina, called a ‘triple dip’ La Nina which is a phenomenon lasting across three winter seasons in the northern hemisphere. 
    • Shift of monsoon weather systems:
      • Usually, monsoon systems move across Northwest India giving rains over the region there. 
      • But this year most of the monsoon weather systems have been travelling across central parts of the country, changing the area of rainfall. 
        • As a result, States such as Madhya Pradesh, Gujarat, Rajasthan and parts of Maharashtra have been recording excess rainfall this season. 
        • West Bengal, Jharkhand, Bihar and Uttar Pradesh are experiencing the worst monsoon season of the century.
        • Experts believe that these changes are here to stay, which would continue to propel extreme weather events over the entire South Asian region.
      • Worldwide implications:
        • During the last six months, entire South Asia has been reporting a series of extreme weather events. 
        • While Bangladesh, India and Pakistan have battled severe floods, China is reeling under massive drought conditions.

    Way Ahead

    • Millions of crop producers and consumers are being affected negatively with these unprecedented changes which are also raising concerns over food security.
    • Limiting warming:
      • The current atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2) concentrations are higher than at any time in the last two million years. 
      • To align with a 1.5°C target of limiting warming, global CO2 emissions must reach net zero around 2050, with global GHG emissions reaching net-zero 15-20 years later. 
    • Slow onsets can still be taken care of through adaptation and resilience ideas but these kinds of big events are very difficult to cope with
      • That is where the main issue lies as the country would then have to divert development money to climate finance to combat climate change.

    Source: TH