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What Climate Models Show & Predict

What Climate Models Show & Predict

Author: Hugh Bollinger/Sunday, August 27, 2017/Categories: natural history, space science, sustainability, environment, climate change

       Hurricane Harvey Structure, 8-25-2017 (credit: NOAA?GEOS-16 environmental monitoring satellite)

For years, predictive models of CO2-induced impacts to the Earth's atmosphere have shown that weather events including droughts, tornadoes, cyclones, and monsoon rains will be altered in their amplitude by greenhouse gases as they increase. When the original models were created in 1960, the concentration of CO2 was ~320ppm and today (only 57 years later) it has increased to ~407ppm, a level not seen on the Earth in millions of years before humans ever existed.

The current weather event known as Hurricane Harvey is breaking all records for known rainfall levels in Texas since rainfall measurements began. Comments such as: "historic"; "catastrophic"; "beyond anything experienced"; "astounding"; etc. have been common exclamations and torrential rains are predicted for several more days. With a storm like Harvey, it is worth a question as to causality for such an increase in rainfall besides flat topography or conversion of wetlands and coastal barrier islands to commercial, industrial, and residential infrastructure purposes.

The National Weather Service, a division of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), has been developing predictive weather models for years to assist various state and government agencies, municipalities, farmers/ranchers/fishermen, homeowners, and others to help them understand the environmental meaurements they gather. The weather agency uses a diverse group of scientific monitoring satellites including the newest, the Geostationary Earth Orbiting Satellite or GEOS-16. NOAA gathered 'big data' sets during Harvey's development over a multi-day period that were then visualized by an animation released before the storm reached the Texas coast. The moisture-carrying density of the hurricane's clouds intensifies in the red and maroon bands:

   Hurricane Harvey Data Visualization, 8-26-2017 (credit: NOAA/GEOS-16 environmental monitoring satellite)

When the storm reached Texas, rainfall totals exeeding 20 inches were experienced over a wide swath of the coastline including Houston, the 4th largest city in the USA. Heavy rains were being measured inland to Austin, the state capitol. To provide a perspective on the 9-trillion gallons of water that were dumped on the region over the 2-day period, a NOAA researcher compared the volumn of rainfall received in one Texas county, Harris in blue, to the entire USA west of the Mississippi River, in red, measured so far in 2017:

Rainfall Comparisons for Harris Co, TX, 8-27-2017 (credit: B. Brettschneider, National Weather Service/NOAA)

                  5-Day Rainfall Forecasts, 8-27-29-017 (credit: National Weather Service/NOAA)

From the environmental measurements of moisture-carrying capacity, NOAA also developed rainfall models for the next 5-days. An additional 15-25 inches could fall on this part of Texas as was received over the weekend.

                      Houston Re-photography, 8-25-2017 to 8-27-2017 (credit: I Love Texas)

An increase in normal rainfall of this magnitude certainly deserves to be called "astounding". It is unlikely a declaration needed to be tell the people in Houston and elsewhere in south Texas who know the graphic details all too well. However, some 'climate deniers' should check out the predictive models created from scientific facts and meaurements, however.



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