What Climate Change Means for Tropical Storms Like Hurricane Ida

Storms like Hurricane Ida, which happened August 26, 2021, belong to a category of hurricanes that intensified just before they reached shores. Sources reveal that Hurricane Ida was estimated to be much weaker before reaching regions of hot air and relatively warm water. Climate change may be to blame for hot air and warm surface water areas, which serve to fuel certain storms and increase their wind strength. Any time a hurricane mutates from an estimated Category 1 or Category 2 storm to Category 4 in less than 24 hours, differences in weather conditions in separate areas is likely to be the cause.

How Do Hurricanes Form?

Hurricanes, also known as tropical cyclones, are the most violent type of storm known on Earth. Hurricanes are formed as warm air near the ocean’s surface flows upward, allowing for low air pressure areas to develop down near the water’s surface. Heat causes air to expand and become less dense. As air expands, it floats upwards toward cooler air. When warm air rises, it leaves areas of relatively low pressure beneath. This forces surrounding air to rush in. Surrounding air from regions with higher pressure may fill the space of low pressure. This cycle causes some of the rising air to cool and condenses into storm clouds. Warm air and warm surface water are the preconditions for hurricane storm formation.

There are a few main factors that contribute to the strength of a hurricane. The first is the ocean surface temperature. Another contributing factor is the amount of moisture in the air, both can add to the amount heat and power in the storm’s cycle. The day before Ida struck Louisiana, it was estimated to be at worst a Category 2 storm. In less than 24 hours, the anticipated intensity of the storm has redoubled.

Hurricane Ida cyclone

Climate Change and Tropical Storms

Some experts have reasoned that anthropogenic global warming is supplementing the heat that tropical storms use as fuel. In other words, greenhouse gas warming may increase the amount of heat that hurricanes are able to achieve as they develop and travel towards shores. Some experts have observed the intensity of storms over the past few decades and associated the severity of such storms with rising average global temperatures. Hurricanes such as Hurricane Harvey, Hurricane Florence, Hurricane Eta and Hurricane Iota all examples of Category 4 storms that occurred within the last couple of years. Some experts have reasoned that severe tropical storms and hurricanes are becoming more frequent.

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