Increasing hurricane damages

By: Dr. Jeff Masters , 9:53 PM GMT on December 05, 2008

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A conference called the Hurricane Science for Safety Leadership Forum convened this week in Orlando to look at how we can better prepare for the inevitable hurricanes in our future. The conference brought together an interesting mix of experts--scientists from environmental groups like the National Wildlife Federation, insurance industry representitives, and a representative from the pro-business Competitive Enterprise Institute (CEI).

There are a number of interesting Powerpoint and video presentations posted on their web site, for those interested. The most eye-opening fact I saw came during a presentation done by Amanda Staudt of the National Wildlife Federation. In her presentation on the policy implication of hurricanes and climate change, she showed that the population of South Florida is projected to grow from a 1990 population of 6.3 million to a 2050 population of 15-30 million people. That's a startling increase in population. Higher and higher hurricane damage tabs are inevitable in coming decades, just from this huge increase in population. She goes further, showing that if the theoretical predictions for global warming by the end of the century come true--a 2-13% increase in hurricane winds due to ocean warming, a 10-31% increase in hurricane rainfall, and an increase in sea level of several feet--there is likely to be a huge increase in hurricane damage, and probably in deaths, as well.

I have a few comments on this. While I believe that hurricane damages will continue to grow primarily because of population increases, higher wealth, and poor land management, the contribution of increased damage due to global warming will start to become significant by the end of the century. The 5% increase in hurricane winds per °C of ocean warming theorized by hurricane researcher Dr. Kerry Emanuel (Emanuel, 2005) may not seem like much, it will make a significant difference in the destructive power of the strongest storms. A Category 4 hurricane does about four times more damage than a Category 3 hurricane, and 250 times more damage than a Category 1 storm (Figure 1). Given the expected increase of tropical sea surface temperatures of 1-2 °C by 2100, hurricane wind speeds should increase by 5-10%. Since the difference in wind speed between a Category 3 and Category 4 hurricane is about 15%, we can anticipate that the strongest hurricanes in 2100 will do 1 1/2 to 3 times more damage than they do now.

This may be an underestimate of the increase in damage, though. Global sea level rose about 0.75 feet last century, and is expected to rise 0.6 - 1.9 feet this century, according to the "official" word on climate, the 2007 report of the U.N.'s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). A paper published by Pfeffer et al. in Science this year concluded that the IPCC underestimated sea level rise, and that the "most likely" range of sea level rise by 2100 is 2.6 - 6.6 feet. If true, we can expect greatly increased damage from hurricane storm surges. However, it is possible that there will be fewer hurricanes by the end of the century, thanks to an increase in wind shear over the tropical Atlantic (Vecchi and Soden, 2007).


Figure 1. Potential hurricane damage as a function of Saffir-Simpson category for U.S. hurricanes between 1925-1995. If the median damage from a Category 1 hurricane is normalized to be a "one", then Category 2, 3, and 4 hurricanes were 10, 50, and 250 times more damaging, respectively. Data taken from Pielke, Jr. R. A., and C. W. Landsea, 1998: "Normalized Atlantic hurricane damage 1925-1995" Wea. Forecasting, 13, pp.621-631.

Better building codes
Congressman Bennie Thompson, D-MS, Chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee, helped to kick off the conference with opening remarks that underscored his intention to hold Congressional hearings on developing new building codes in hurricane-prone areas. He was hopeful that President-elect Obama and new incoming head of Homeland Security, Arizona Gov. Janet Napolitano, would work to adopt new, tougher building standards. "Take a look at the homes on the Bolivar Peninsula in Texas that are still standing after the hurricane," Thompson said. "We know how to build stronger homes. Now we just need to do it." Thompson said that while such legislation had been introduced in the past but failed, chances were better under an Obama administration of passage.

I think it is essential that more stringent and comprehensive building codes get adopted in hurricane alley to reduce the inevitable huge price tags from future hurricanes.

References
Emanuel, K. 2005, "Increasing destructiveness of tropical cyclones over the past 30 years", Nature, 436, 4 August 2005, doi:10.1038/nature03906.

Vecchi, G.A., and B.J. Soden, 2007, "Increased tropical Atlantic wind shear in model projections of global warming", Geophys. Res. Lett., 34, L08702, doi:10.1029/2006GL028905, 2007.

Jeff Masters

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Hi Pottery! Nice evening here in Florida!
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HurricaneKing. Interesting question.
But what steps are you refering to, that we are taking now, that may negatively impact GW ??
I dont know of any.....
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Quoting HurricaneKing:


My question to all the step takers is this. How do we know the steps we are taking trying to stop "global Wariming" doesn't cause a worse problem. That's why I say we leave the climate alone. We should stop doing some of the stuff anyway because it's bad for the environment and us but after that ehh I think the planet is better off not being influenced.


Either way, preventative is better than repairing
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Quoting hurristat:


As tired as I am of this discussion, I will say one thing. I dont care if you believe it exists or not, better to take steps to prevent it than to do nothing...
ok im done now


My question to all the step takers is this. How do we know the steps we are taking trying to stop "global Wariming" doesn't cause a worse problem. That's why I say we leave the climate alone. We should stop doing some of the stuff anyway because it's bad for the environment and us but after that ehh I think the planet is better off not being influenced.
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Quoting HurricaneKing:

Where do you live again? Wherever it is I dont want to be there. I hate freezing rain and sleet. I was tramamtized by it when I was a child. My sister had lost her first child and my mom was trying to get home from the hospital when the storm came in about 12 hours early. The doors to the house were frozen shut. My mom almost got killed on a bridge because of a huge car pileup. She barely missed it. In coastal NC this was rare and terrible. I tremble thinking about it.


SE Michigan... close to Dr. Masters
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Quoting BahaHurican:
This is the one argument that makes me think 2x about MMGW.

Anybody who has a problem with the concept of GW in a general sense I have a problem with. There's enough data over the last little while to suggest the warming trend has been ongoing.

Cause-effect relationship? I'm not as convinced. I do think some things need to be done in a general sense to reduce the human footprint on the earth, but I'm not sold on the human factor as THE major shift in the paradigm.

Right. That's my one daily comment in the GW topic. . . .


As tired as I am of this discussion, I will say one thing. I dont care if you believe it exists or not, better to take steps to prevent it than to do nothing...
ok im done now
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Quoting hurristat:
I may not have school tomorrow... Freezing Rain!!

Where do you live again? Wherever it is I dont want to be there. I hate freezing rain and sleet. I was tramamtized by it when I was a child. My sister had lost her first child and my mom was trying to get home from the hospital when the storm came in about 12 hours early. The doors to the house were frozen shut. My mom almost got killed on a bridge because of a huge car pileup. She barely missed it. In coastal NC this was rare and terrible. I tremble thinking about it.
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Quoting Autistic2:
After looking on Google I found out that the earth has had AT LEAST four major ice ages. The earth warmed up between these ices ages and there were no people around at the time (that we know of).
My question is this. What makes us think this “Global Warming” has anything to do with us and should we even try to stop it? The earth is pretty well made to take care of itself in some matters.
This is the one argument that makes me think 2x about MMGW.

Anybody who has a problem with the concept of GW in a general sense I have a problem with. There's enough data over the last little while to suggest the warming trend has been ongoing.

Cause-effect relationship? I'm not as convinced. I do think some things need to be done in a general sense to reduce the human footprint on the earth, but I'm not sold on the human factor as THE major shift in the paradigm.

Right. That's my one daily comment in the GW topic. . . .
Member Since: October 25, 2005 Posts: 19 Comments: 21659
Quoting KEEPEROFTHEGATE:
15hurricanes has been replaced with empty space
Quoting MissNadia:

THANK YOU!


Ditto!!
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Quoting KEEPEROFTHEGATE:
15hurricanes has been replaced with empty space

THANK YOU!
Member Since: July 27, 2008 Posts: 0 Comments: 3002
After looking on Google I found out that the earth has had AT LEAST four major ice ages. The earth warmed up between these ices ages and there were no people around at the time (that we know of).
My question is this. What makes us think this “Global Warming” has anything to do with us and should we even try to stop it? The earth is pretty well made to take care of itself in some matters.
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15hurricanes has been replaced with empty space
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Good Night all Do a little snow dance for me lol
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I may not have school tomorrow... Freezing Rain!!
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hey everyone I'm back...
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446. bwi
Uh... Question for winter weather watchers here: I find this new new HPC chart for QPF in Days 4 and 5 a little disturbing for the I-95 corridor around, well, BWI (the airport). Haven't seen any significant local discussion yet.

Will much of this be frozen?
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nothing to do with weather...except i thought it was "thunderous" comment:

In a new column for WorldNewDaily, Pat Boone compares the protesters against California's Proposition 8 to the terrorists who committed the attacks in Mumbai, India. "Have you not seen the awful similarity between what happened in Mumbai and what's happening right now in our cities?" he asks. "Oh, I know the homosexual 'rights' demonstrations haven't reached the same level of violence, but I'm referring to the anger, the vehemence, the total disregard for law and order and the supposed rights of their fellow citizens."

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I think the Philippine low just switched centers.
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What's up with the NWO being warm biased behind this next system? My guess, it's because of model flipflops(by tomorrow I'm sure it will change again).
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Can't believe it's almost here!!

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PC premiered 40 years ago to awed crowd

Charles Burress, Chronicle Staff Writer
Monday, December 8, 2008

(12-07) 19:24 PST -- Little did the world realize 40 years ago that a San Francisco stage was featuring the first public glimpse of an invention that would revolutionize not only our daily lives but also our ability to solve the world's problems.

An audience of about 1,000 people had witnessed the premiere of the personal computer.

The Dec. 9, 1968, unveiling of the primitive device with a mouse and interactive screen - in a now-legendary demonstration by its inventor, Douglas Engelbart of the Stanford Research Institute - drew a rousing, standing ovation from the computing cognoscenti who recognized the significance of what they had just seen.
...
Link

...pat your pc tomorrow and remind it that it's the 40th anniversary of its great,great,great,greatgranddaddies coming out party.

We've come a long way baby...
CRS

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Quoting all4hurricanes:

Even their IQ doesn't give an entire story they could know nothing except weather which wouldn't help on an IQ test but it certainly would on this blog. We should just judge them based on what they say. I f I was Judged on my age on this blog I probably wouldn't get high ratings.


I agree 100%.
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Quoting presslord:
I completely agree with the earlier admonition against judgeing people by their age...I strongly prefer judgeing people by their IQ....it's frequently a much lower number.....

Even their IQ doesn't give an entire story they could know nothing except weather which wouldn't help on an IQ test but it certainly would on this blog. We should just judge them based on what they say. I f I was Judged on my age on this blog I probably wouldn't get high ratings.
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Quoting 15hurricanes:
2009 Atlantic hurricane season:

i will win!
there are no winners
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Quoting presslord:
I completely agree with the earlier admonition against judgeing people by their age...I strongly prefer judgeing people by their IQ....it's frequently a much lower number.....


Putting them English major skills to use press? ;P LOL

Hard to disagree with that assertion.
Member Since: October 28, 2006 Posts: 57 Comments: 29942
Just so you know, I'm taking usernames for a holiday card on my blog.
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I completely agree with the earlier admonition against judgeing people by their age...I strongly prefer judgeing people by their IQ....it's frequently a much lower number.....
Member Since: August 13, 2007 Posts: 0 Comments: 10479
422. MichaelSTL 5:48 PM EST on December 08, 2008

Interesting also to note the anomalously warm areas NE of Mauritius and New Zealand. Both area areas, IIRC, where storm formation potential is generally high later in the season (like Feb-Mar).
Member Since: October 25, 2005 Posts: 19 Comments: 21659
430. JRRP
Quoting 15hurricanes:
408, 410, 411!

u retarded again? That's amazing!

I can't see u

kjajajajajajajajajajaja me haces reir jajajajaja
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yea Michael...matbe I need another plan....
Member Since: August 13, 2007 Posts: 0 Comments: 10479
Quoting all4hurricanes:
How did this blog get so active when there is nothing happening?!?
It's a form of heat generation; we blog heavy in the North, they have heavy [ocean only] storms in the S Pacific . . .

OK, I admit this is entirely a hoax . . .
Member Since: October 25, 2005 Posts: 19 Comments: 21659
Quoting MichaelSTL:


This article blames La Nina for unusually high activity last season, at least in the southwest Indian.
I was thinking the areas around Australia, mainly. Though now that I think of it their season wasn't particularly below average either. . . hmmm. Definitely reading needed.
Member Since: October 25, 2005 Posts: 19 Comments: 21659
Quoting presslord:
yup....that's the downside....How ya been?


Pretty good hanging in there... I guess...

You?
Member Since: October 28, 2006 Posts: 57 Comments: 29942
yup....that's the downside....How ya been?
Member Since: August 13, 2007 Posts: 0 Comments: 10479
Quoting presslord:
correct.....I should move to the desert....don't like cold either....


Not boating there though ;P
Member Since: October 28, 2006 Posts: 57 Comments: 29942
correct.....I should move to the desert....don't like cold either....
Member Since: August 13, 2007 Posts: 0 Comments: 10479
Quoting presslord:
Drak!!!!!! My man!!!!!!!!! I ain't diggin' your forecast.....


You don't like rain?
Member Since: October 28, 2006 Posts: 57 Comments: 29942
How did this blog get so active when there is nothing happening?!?
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Drak!!!!!! My man!!!!!!!!! I ain't diggin' your forecast.....
Member Since: August 13, 2007 Posts: 0 Comments: 10479
As for the temperature division, I see more of a difference between the north and south. 15 degrees in Portland, ME and 73 in Tampa, FL seals the deal, as far as that goes.
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About

Jeff co-founded the Weather Underground in 1995 while working on his Ph.D. He flew with the NOAA Hurricane Hunters from 1986-1990.