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The natural world. Looking pretty for 3.5b years.

Michael the Menace

Author: Hugh Bollinger/Thursday, October 11, 2018/Categories: natural history, photography, space science, sustainability, environment, climate change


                           Hurricane Michael Hitting Florida and Southeast USA, 10-10-2018 (credit: NOAA)

It is less than two weeks since the un-welcome visit of super-storm Florence that blew through the Southeastern coastal states. Now, Hurricane Michael has shown up to menace the region all over again. Super-charged by high water temperatures in the Gulf of Mexico, Michael tore through southeast Florida and headed inland towards Georgia and the Carolinas still recovering from Florence. According to NASA and NOAA's Coral Reef Watch sea surface temperature should be above 82°F (27.8°C) to sustain and intensify hurricanes.


        Gulf of Mexico Surface Temperature Anomalies, 10-8-2018 (credit: NASA & NOAA)

Back-to-back hurricanes should add substance to climate change discussions, particularly with the just released report by the Inter-governmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). The IPCC notes that: "One of the key messages that comes out very strongly from this report is that we are already seeing the consequences of 1°C of global warming through more extreme weather, rising sea levels, and diminishing Arctic sea ice, among other changes." Their models for climate change impacts, due to rising air and water temperatures, all predict the atmospheric changes will amplify weather events like hurricanes and tornadoes to higher levels that in the past.


                            Hurricane Michael's Path, 10-11-2018 (credit: NOAA)

According to the National Atmospheric and Oceanic Administration (NOAA), Hurricane Michael hit the Florida coastline as a Category-4 storm with wind speeds of 155mph. Storm surges reached up to 15 feet and rainfall, from the storm's bands, dumped up to 10 inches of water. Estimates of economic damages to homes, businesses, and relateed infrastructure is still being calculated but could exceed $30 Billion. Raw aerial footage from hard hit areas show the extent of the damage.


Once all the damages are assessed and the first responders have rescued all the survivors, an honest conversation needs to emerge that takes climate change seriously. Environmental scientists do serious research and deserve to receive far more credit for trying to warn the public. The consequences of denying their data and predictions will result in even stronger and more frequenct storms than Michael.



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