Hurricane Florence and Climate Change


Hurricane Florence occurred from August 31st to September 19th in 2018, and its effects were record-breaking. Florence killed more than 32 people and disrupted the lives of millions living in the Southern United States. Many predict that Florence will have a negative effect on the US economy. This hurricane, along with other recent Hurricanes, have done vast damage to the United States, costing billions of dollars and hurting numerous lives. But why are hurricanes becoming more intense?

Hurricanes initially form over the ocean, where air is warm and moist. A low pressure center causes winds to travel from areas of higher pressure to the low pressure center. The speed of the wind depends on the pressure gradient: the lower the pressure of the center is, the faster the wind speeds. Wind speeds of hurricanes determine their category, measured by the Saffir Simpson scale. The water vapor content and temperature in the hurricane’s environment also determines the amount of precipitation. This is why most hurricanes are strong as they enter the Southeast US, but become weaker as they reach New England. Unlike the South, New England is colder and drier. 

Studies have shown that human-induced greenhouse gas emissions have contributed greatly to a warming Earth. Many argue that the Earth is naturally warming. This is true, but the extent to which it is warming currently is much, much more than it is supposed to. Currently, the earth is warming exponentially. The main effects of the current warming of Earth is an increase in the average temperature, but also a change in water vapor content. Since more water is evaporating in the Western US, the Western US is becoming drier. Consequently, more water vapor is getting pushed eastward, causing flooding in the Eastern US. 

These changes have caused Atlantic hurricanes to become more intense. Meteorologists predict that the intensity of hurricanes will increase, but their frequency will decrease. If humans do not act to reduce the effects of climate change, intense hurricanes will become one of its many extreme effects. Currently, it is already too late to solve some climate-related problems; at best we can reduce some problems, but it will take reducing factory emissions and fossil fuel production, which is a controversial situation.