2011 the most expensive year for natural disasters in history

By: Dr. Jeff Masters , 2:42 PM GMT on July 14, 2011

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An exceptional accumulation of very severe natural catastrophes, including earthquakes in Japan and New Zealand, tornadoes and flooding in the U.S., and flooding in Australia and New Zealand, make 2011 the highest-ever loss year on record, even after the first half-year, said re-insurance giant Munich Re in a press release this week. The $265 billion in economic losses accumulated this year exceeds the previous record year, 2005, which had $220 billion in damage (mostly due to $125 billion in damage from Hurricane Katrina.) Unlike 2005, this year's losses have been headlined by two huge earthquakes--the March 11 quake in Japan ($210 billion) and the February 22 quake in New Zealand ($20 billion.) But with the Northern Hemisphere's hurricane season just beginning, this year's record losses may see a significant boost from hurricanes.


Figure 1. Stunned survivors survey the destruction left by the EF-4 Tuscaloosa-Birmingham tornado of April. With a price tag estimated at $2 billion, this was the single most expensive tornado of all-time. The record stood only three weeks, being surpassed by the $3 billion in damage from the Joplin Missouri, tornado. The two tornado outbreaks that spawned these tornadoes rank as the globe's 3rd and 5th most destructive natural disasters so far this year. Image from an anonmous posting to Twitter.

Climate change and damage from weather-related disasters
In an interview with MSNBC, Peter Hoppe, who runs Munich Re's Geo Risks Research/Corporate Climate Center, said that while the damage trend for earthquakes, tsunamis and volcanic eruptions is fairly stable, damage from severe weather events is on the upswing, even after factoring in increases in population and wealth. He cited natural events such as La Niña and El Niño as factors in some of the damaging weather events, but added that warming temperatures appear to be adding a layer "on top" of that natural variability. In particular, he noted that the floods this January in Australia--that nation's most expensive natural disaster of all time--occurred when ocean temperatures off the coast were at record warm levels. That meant "more evaporation and higher potential for these extreme downpours", and "it can only be explained by global warming."


Figure 2. The five most expensive natural disasters of 2011, as estimated by Munich Re.

However, the there is a lot of controversy on whether economic losses due to weather-related disasters is increasing due to climate change. A 2010 paper in the Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society by Netherlands researcher Laurens Bouwer titled, "Have disaster losses increased due to anthropogenic climate change?", looked at 22 disaster loss studies in various parts of the world. All of the studies showed an increase in damages from weather-related disasters in recent decades. The big question is, how much of this increase in damage was due to increases in population, and the fact people are getting wealthier, and thus have more stuff to get damaged? Fourteen of the 22 studies concluded that there were no trends in damage after correcting for increases in wealth and population, while eight of the studies did find upward trends even after such corrections. In all 22 studies, increases in wealth and population were the "most important drivers for growing disaster losses."

Bouwer's review of these 22 disaster loss studies was critiqued this year by Neville Nicholls of the School of Geography and Environmental Science of Montash University, Australia. His analysis, published in the Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society, notes that Bouwer's study of damage losses did not include the impact of improvements in building codes and weather forecasting. We can expect both factors to have significantly reduced damages due to storms in recent years. Nicholls concludes, "The absence of an upward trend in normalized losses may be due to a balance between reduced vulnerability (from improved weather forecasting and building techniques) and increased frequency or intensity of weather hazards." In his reply to Nicholls' comments, Bouwer states that Nicholls "provides no support that these factors have actually contributed to a substantial reduction in losses over the period of the last decades."

Jeff Masters

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Quoting shred3590:


I think you misread the question. The question was what is thermally driven descents. See quote in post 558. I believe that thermally driven descents are the reverse process of condensation. As the water molecule warms from snow to rain, it draws heat from the air causing a cold dense mass of air that descends. That is why the paper refers to the melting level in the storm.


That came from the caption to this figure, and the arrows cited from that caption do not correspond to the eye region, but rather the spiral bands.



Cross section of the core of a mature hurricane. The axisymmetric primary swirling motion (curved black arrows) of the vortex is sustained by a radial and vertical secondary circulation (red arrows) that consists of frictional inflow that loses angular momentum to the sea as it gains moist enthalpy and a convective updraft around the eye that turns the latent heat into sensible heat to provide the buoyancy needed to loft air from the surface to tropopause level. The updraft entrains midlevel air promoting mass and angular momentum convergence (blue arrow). It is this inflow that supplies the excess angular momentum needed to spin up the vortex. Precipitation driven convective updrafts (vertical black arrow) form as hydrometeors fall from the outward sloping updraft. Condensation in the anvil causes a mesoscale updraft above the 0%uFFFDC isotherm and precipitation loading by snow falling from the overhanging anvil causes a mesoscale downdraft below 0%uFFFDC isotherm (yellow arrows). The melting level itself is marked by the radar brightband (green) and maximum mass convergence. Inside the eye, thermally driven descent warms and dries the tropospheric column, leading to substantial pressure fall there.

*Edit: Perhaps I am seeing the image wrong. It looked like a whole hurricane core to me at first, but at 2nd glance may just be showing the entire Eyewall in a large, zoomed-in way.
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589. beell
Hey, Levi,

There's a first mention of a convergent flow aloft for Ma-On in the 03Z discussion.

: -)
Member Since: September 11, 2007 Posts: 143 Comments: 16758
Quoting BaltOCane:


like little bread crumbs...

From little bread crumbs doth a large loaf come...

or some such thing...

heheheheh
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Interesting comment from Willoughby:

The dry process does lower the pressure farther, but its most significant effect is to sharpen the pressure gradients that sustain the strongest winds.
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Quoting beell:


Which, if I understood the paper correctly is the hydrostatic part of the process that aids or initiates the subsidence in the upper part of the eye. Without it, there would be no clear (cloud-free) eye as all the upper level outflow would remain just that; Outflow


And the convection can't draw mass out of the eye until there is an eye. During development, all the air converges at the center and rises. The inflow alone cannot create an eye, as before there is an eye, ideally the strongest convection is directly over the surface low pressure area. As soon as the mid-upper troposphere is warmed enough via latent heat release, pressures aloft are raised which initiates the decent. This decent can then be aided and accelerated by the inflow out of the sinking region into the surrounding thunderstorms, as the paper stated.
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Quoting Levi32:


Yeah there is that too to help maintain the eye, but how do you think the eye was formed in the first place? Not by inflow drawing air out (it all goes in during the developing stage), but by warm air aloft increasing air pressure and forcing air to descend.


I think you misread the question. The question was what is thermally driven descents. See quote in post 558. I believe that thermally driven descents are the reverse process of condensation. As the water molecule warms from snow to rain, it draws heat from the air causing a cold dense mass of air that descends. That is why the paper refers to the melting level in the storm.
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584. beell
WDPN31 PGTW 150300
MSGID/GENADMIN/NAVMARFCSTCEN PEARL HARBOR HI/JTWC//
SUBJ/PROGNOSTIC REASONING FOR TYPHOON 08W (MA-ON)//WARNING NR 15//
RMKS/
1. FOR METEOROLOGISTS.
2. TYPHOON (TY) 08W (MA-ON), LOCATED APPROXIMATELY 270 NM SOUTH-
SOUTHEAST OF IWO TO, JAPAN, HAS TRACKED WESTWARD AT 11 KNOTS OVER
THE PAST SIX HOURS. ANIMATED MULTISPECTRAL SATELLITE IMAGERY SHOWS A
10 NM EYE WITH THE MAJORITY OF CONVECTIVE BANDING ALONG THE SOUTHERN
PERIPHERY. THE INFRARED SATELLITE IMAGERY DEPICTS IMPROVED
CONVECTIVE BANDING AROUND THE EYE AND A BANDING FEATURE ALONG THE
EASTERN PERIPHERY. UPPER LEVEL ANALYSIS AND ANIMATED WATER VAPOR
IMAGERY INDICATE OUTFLOW IS INHIBITED ALONG THE NORTHEASTERN
PERIPHERY DUE TO SUBSIDENCE CAUSED BY CONVERGENT FLOW ALOFT. TY 08W
MAINTAINS EXCELLENT EQUATORWARD OUTFLOW AND OUTFLOW INTO A TROPICAL
UPPER TROPOSPHERIC TROUGH TO THE NORTHWEST. THE INITIAL INTENSITY IS
BASED ON PGTW, KNES, AND RJTD DVORAK ESTIMATES RANGING FROM 100 TO
115 KNOTS. TY 08W IS CURRENTLY TRACKING ALONG THE SOUTHERN PERIPHERY
OF A DEEP-LAYERED SUBTROPICAL STEERING RIDGE CENTERED SOUTH OF
TOKYO, JAPAN.
3. FORECAST REASONING
A. THERE ARE NO SIGNIFICANT CHANGES IN FORECAST PHILOSOPHY FROM
THE PREVIOUS PROGNOSTIC REASONING BULLETIN.
B. THE SYSTEM IS EXPECTED TO CONTINUE TRACKING GENERALLY WESTWARD
THROUGH TAU 36 AND REACH MAXIMUM INTENSITY AT THIS TIME WITH A
FAVORABLE UPPER LEVEL ENVIRONMENT AND HIGH OCEAN HEAT CONTENT. AFTER
TAU 36, TY 08W SHOULD BEGIN TO TURN POLEWARD AS IT MODIFIES AND
REORIENTS THE STEERING RIDGE. ALSO, A TRANSITORY MID-LATITUDE
TROUGH, CURRENTLY OVER NORTHERN CHINA, WILL CONTRIBUTE TO MODIFYING
THE STEERING RIDGE. THE SYSTEM WILL BEGIN TO WEAKEN AS IT TRACKS
NORTHWARD OVER WATER WITH LOW OCEAN HEAT CONTENT. HOWEVER, THE
INTENSITIES SHOULD NOT DROP OFF TOO SIGNIFICANTLY AS IT APPROACHES
SOUTHERN JAPAN BECAUSE VERTICAL WIND SHEAR IS EXPECTED TO INCREASE
ONLY SLIGHTLY.
C. AFTER TAU 72, TY MA-ON WILL CONTINUE TRACKING MORE POLEWARD
AND REACH SOUTHERN JAPAN JUST AFTER TAU 120. TY 08W IS EXPECTED TO
REMAIN A STRONG TYPHOON BEFORE REACHING JAPAN BECAUSE THE UPPER
LEVEL ENVIRONMENT SHOULD REMAIN FAVORABLE. MODEL GUIDANCE SPREAD
INCREASES AFTER TAU 48 WITH THE TIMING OF THE POLEWARD TURN. BOTH
ECMWF AND UKMO ARE INDICATING AN ENHANCED DIRECT CYCLONE INTERACTION
(DCI) WITH A DISTURBANCE IN THE EAST PHILIPPINE SEA AND THEREFORE
TRACK TY 08W FARTHER WESTWARD BEFORE TURNING IT SHARPLY NORTHWARD.
NOGAPS IS THE EASTERN OUTLIER AND IS NOT INDICATING AS STRONG OF A
DCI SCENARIO. THIS FORECAST IS SLIGHTLY WEST OF MODEL CONSENSUS TO
ACCOUNT FOR THE DCI SCENARIO AND PERSISTENCE IN TRACK MOTION.//
NNNN

Member Since: September 11, 2007 Posts: 143 Comments: 16758
Quoting Levi32:


Yeah there is that too to help maintain the eye, but how do you think the eye was formed in the first place? Not by inflow drawing air out (it all goes in during the developing stage), but by warm air aloft increasing air pressure and forcing air to descend.

Source. I. e., what flavor ice cream are you eating?

fyi -- Willoughby is not talking about cyclogenesis. His paper is where the diagram Patrap (post 529) gave a link to earlier comes from. It describes a mature cyclone.
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Quoting Tropicsweatherpr:
Levi, this is the July outlook by EUROSIP, and it shows lower pressures,as it had in past month forecasts in the MDR,Caribbean and GOM for the peak of the season,(ASO)That for sure if it pans out will favor long CV trackers.

Link


Yes, it is not comforting to see those MSLP forecasts trending down with every month.
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Quoting BaltOCane:


like little bread crumbs...


I would hate to see what would come along and eat those crumbs
Member Since: August 7, 2010 Posts: 0 Comments: 1937
Ma-on continues to struggle with dry air right up to the northern eyewall, which is barely there, and broken.

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Levi, this is the July outlook by EUROSIP, and it shows lower pressures,as it had in past month forecasts in the MDR,Caribbean and GOM for the peak of the season,(ASO)That for sure if it pans out will favor long CV trackers.

Link
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Quoting pottery:
Post 571
Incredible "line" of Vorticity across the Atl....
Cant remember seeing that before.


like little bread crumbs...
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Post 571
Incredible "line" of Vorticity across the Atl....
Cant remember seeing that before.
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576. beell
Quoting bappit:

I think you need to read the paper!

The descent is forced as convection draws mass from the bottom of the eye into the eyewall.


Which, if I understood the paper correctly is the hydrostatic part of the process that aids or initiates the subsidence in the upper part of the eye. Without it, there would be no clear (cloud-free) eye as all the upper level outflow would remain just that; Outflow
Member Since: September 11, 2007 Posts: 143 Comments: 16758
575. HadesGodWyvern (Mod)
Quoting MrstormX:
What is that weaker storm, South of our Typhoon?





Ma-on and Tropical Depression on the surface map from Japan Meteorological Agency
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574. HadesGodWyvern (Mod)
Japan Meteorological Agency
Tropical Disturbance Summary
TROPICAL DEPRESSION XX
9:00 AM JST July 15 2011
=================================

At 0:00 AM UTC, Tropical Depression (1004 hPa) located at 14.0N 133.0E has 10 minute sustained winds of 25 knots with gusts of 40 knots. The depression is reported as almost stationary
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting bappit:

I think you need to read the paper!

The descent is forced as convection draws mass from the bottom of the eye into the eyewall.


Yeah there is that too to help maintain the eye, but how do you think the eye was formed in the first place? Not by inflow drawing air out (it all goes in during the developing stage), but by warm air aloft increasing air pressure and forcing air to descend.
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Get some chocolate chip mint and read until you've eaten at least a pint.
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Quoting bappit:

I think you need to read the paper!


?
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Quoting Levi32:


High pressure aloft due to warm air expansion from the latent heat release of the eyewall thunderstorms, causing sinking motion.

I think you need to read the paper!

The descent is forced as convection draws mass from the bottom of the eye into the eyewall.
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Quoting FrankZapper:
Please to all Jason followers. Do not tell him to limit his handles. I thoroughly enjoy the JasonXYZ personality and encourage him to expand like the Universe into More variations of Jason. As long as he remains true to the Jason image. :)

I want more ice cream flavors.
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Looks like it could be a bad year for the Caribbean & Gulf states!
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very nice spin near 45w !!!!!
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A series of strong waves in the Atl
The one approaching 50W is being affected by dry air, but behind that there is more available WV.
The wave on the Africa coast has good conditions ahead of it.
It looks to be nearly August out there.....
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HPC 500-mb Height Preference

Displayed below is the HPC preferred 500-mb pattern (purple) every 12 hours from 36-84 hours and the spread of the 500-mb heights from the SREF. You can overlay the 500-mb pattern at the same valid times from the GFS, NAM, Canadian, UKMET, SREF mean, and GEFS mean using the buttons above the loop. If you see old images, try hitting the "Refresh" button, or closing your browser and reloading the page.

Link
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XX/AOI/XL
MARK
8.88N45.88W


well if its to do anything it will soon start
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MODEL DIAGNOSTIC DISCUSSION
NWS HYDROMETEOROLOGICAL PREDICTION CENTER CAMP SPRINGS MD
232 PM EDT THU JUL 14 2011

ANY INITIALIZATION ERRORS WITH THE NAM AND GFS DO NOT APPEAR TO
SIGNIFICANTLY IMPACT THEIR SOLUTIONS.
...COLD FRONT SETTLING INTO THE SOUTHEAST DAY 1...

PREFERENCE: ECMWF

THE NAM TURNS BOUNDARY LAYER WINDS TO THE NORTHEAST DOWN THE
ATLANTIC COAST OF FLORIDA VIA AN INTERACTION BETWEEN THE FRONT AND
A SURFACE LOW NEAR THE NORTHERN BAHAMAS...WHILE THE ECMWF AND GEM
GLOBAL HALT THE FRONT AT THE GEORGIA BORDER...INDICATING LIGHT
SOUTHWEST FLOW ACROSS THE NORTHERN FLORIDA PENINSULA. THE GFS AND
UKMET SOLUTIONS FALL BETWEEN THE TWO CAMPS. WHATEVER DISTINCT
SURFACE LOW THAT FORMS IS LIKELY TO BE ALONG OR VERY CLOSE TO THE
LEADING EDGE OF THE BAROCLINICITY...AS PER THE ECMWF AND GEM
GLOBAL.

Link

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Quoting bappit:

Good stuff. So a tropical cyclone has more moving parts than just some thunderstorms at the center.

Condensation in the anvil causes a mesoscale updraft above the 0%uFFFDC isotherm and precipitation loading by snow falling from the overhanging anvil causes a mesoscale downdraft below 0%uFFFDC isotherm (yellow arrows). The melting level itself is marked by the radar brightband (green) and maximum mass convergence.

Makes sense since the divergence (vertically) at the freezing level would create a path of least resistance to inflow at that level.

This piece is a bit puzzling.

Inside the eye, thermally driven descent warms and dries the tropospheric column, leading to substantial pressure fall there.

What does it mean by "thermally driven descent"?


High pressure aloft due to warm air expansion from the latent heat release of the eyewall thunderstorms, causing sinking motion.
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554. clwstmchasr

Still a nice Documentary.

Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 426 Comments: 128865
Ok, since the last time I stopped reading the blog early, we had 97L spin up, I'm checking in to see if there's something hiding under the bad again tonight!

Think we're clear until morning at least? ;)
Member Since: June 3, 2010 Posts: 0 Comments: 321
Please to all Jason followers. Do not tell him to limit his handles. I thoroughly enjoy the JasonXYZ personality and encourage him to expand like the Universe into More variations of Jason. As long as he remains true to the Jason image. :)
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NOAA plane flies through the eye of hurricane Gilbert in 1988

Dr. Masters and colleagues on board.

Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 426 Comments: 128865
Quoting bappit:
Good info. Thanks!



I can see a younger Jeff Masters on the NOAA P-3 running that kinda stuff thru his mind as they flew research Missions.



That's a good read that paper still.

Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 426 Comments: 128865
Quoting MrstormX:
What is that weaker storm, South of our Typhoon?



What should be a tropical depression which for some reason isn't classified, but it is being sheared now by Ma-on. Interestingly the surface circulation is drifting northeast towards the much larger one of Ma-on's.
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Quoting txjac:
AtHome ...happy to hear that you received some much needed rain ...hope there is more to come


Thanks Txjac. Hope it spreads your way too. Just read your link about the power conservation. I've been wondering when the rolling outages would start around here. Hope it doesn't come to that.
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Quoting MrstormX:
What is that weaker storm, South of our Typhoon?

It's a tropical low that's just waiting for Ma-on to do it's stuff and go along before making a run for the coast somewhere.... somebody was speculating earlier that it may cause some Fujiwara interaction with Ma-on later this week.... not sure this is brought out in model forecasts, though.
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I hate boring weather, boring weather in SE Florida :( Back to 20% rain chance for the next week or so , so much for drought relief here along the coast!
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Quoting ShenValleyFlyFish:
Said he was going on vacation soon? Time to batten down?
Did he say vacation? If he's in Alaska working it's one thing; but we all know that Doc Masters going on vacation is a "cat's away mice play" scenario for the ATL tropics.... lol
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541. txjac
AtHome ...happy to hear that you received some much needed rain ...hope there is more to come
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Jeff co-founded the Weather Underground in 1995 while working on his Ph.D. He flew with the NOAA Hurricane Hunters from 1986-1990.

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