Katrina-level storm surges have more than doubled due to global warming

By: Dr. Jeff Masters , 2:08 PM GMT on March 25, 2013

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Since 1923, there has been a ‘Katrina’ magnitude storm surge every 20 years, according to a storm surge index developed by Aslak Grinsted, an assistant professor at the Centre for Ice and Climate at the Niels Bohr Institute. The index uses data from six tide gauges along the U.S. coast from Texas to New Jersey from 1923 - 2011, and is part of a statistical model that links global temperatures to the risk of Katrina-level storm surges. Because of global warming, Katrina-magnitude storm surge events have now more than doubled in frequency since the late 1800s, Grinsted and colleagues argue, in research published in March 2013 in the scientific journal, Proceedings of the National Academy of Science (PNAS). Their statistical model found that an increase of 0.4°C in global temperatures was sufficient to double the odds of Katrina-magnitude storm surges. Since global temperatures have risen 0.6°C since the late 1800s, "we have already crossed the threshold where more than half of all ‘Katrinas’ are due to global warming,” said Grinsted in a press release. Projecting into the future, the model predicts that if the global climate warms as expected by 2°C before the end of the century, Katrina-level storm surge events will become ten times more common, and a Katrina-level surge will occur, on average, every 2 years, instead of every 20 years. Since sea level is steadily rising due to global warming, these future storm surges will also be riding in on top of an elevated ocean surface, and will thus be able to do even greater damage than in the past. Since this is a simple statistical model, I am hopeful that the relationship Grinsted at al. found might break down as the climate warms, due to unexpected changes in hurricane tracks, wind shear, etc. However, this high-end consequence of global warming is quite possible, and is something coastal planners should should consider, particularly since the U.S. population living along the coast is expected to grow from 123 million in 2010 to 134 million people by 2020, according to a NOAA report issued on March 25. We need to retreat from barrier islands highly vulnerable to storm surge, and invest in significantly improved shoreline protection measures in the coming decades.


Figure 1. High water marks on East Ship Island, Mississippi, after Hurricane Katrina in 2005. Katrina brought the highest storm surge ever recorded on the U.S. coast, 27.8' at Pass Christian, MS. Left image: Bark stripped off a tree with salt-burned pine trees in the background (note the 25 ft (7.65 m) long survey rod for scale). Right: Massive beach and over wash erosion illustrated by damaged and snapped pine trees along the beach. Arrows show the the high water mark left by the storm surge. Image credit: Fritz et al., 2007, "Hurricane Katrina storm surge distribution and field observations on the Mississippi Barrier Islands" (PDF File), Estuarine, Coastal, and Shelf Science (2007), doi:10.1016/j.ecss.2007.03.015.


Figure 2. Number of Katrina magnitude surge events per decade for the past and future computed using gridded global temperatures and a statistical model relating global temperatures to storm surges. Confidence intervals of 5% and 16% are shown in the lighter blue colors. Image credit: Niels Bohr Institute at the University of Copenhagen.

References
Grinsted, A., J. C. Moore, and S. Jevrejeva, 2012, "A homogeneous record of Atlantic hurricane surge threat since 1923," PNAS 2012, doi:10.1073/pnas.1209542109

Grinsted, A., J. C. Moore, and S. Jevrejeva, 2012, "Projected Atlantic hurricane surge threat from rising temperatures" PNAS March 18, 2013 201209980, doi: 10.1073/pnas.1209980110

Jeff Masters

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well for sunday..................
Member Since: August 6, 2011 Posts: 5 Comments: 50197
Quoting trHUrrIXC5MMX:
Abut when and where weather will rumble, accuweather





I guess they are thinking like me that Tornado Alley is going to be shut down for business this year.
Member Since: February 28, 2013 Posts: 15 Comments: 8235
Quoting txjac:
Wow, loving all the outlooks for rain in Texas!
Hopefully not severe just one of those all day nice rain drenchers. I live wher it floods so let it be a slow, gentle rain. If it's going to be fierce rain I'll be working from home ...nothing like flooded streets to battle.



Member Since: April 23, 2011 Posts: 104 Comments: 14875
Quoting pcola57:


Crazy is right FL..
Come August I will try to remember these temps while cleaning the gutters..again..Lol.. :)
pcola be a lil wary next wens/thurs the models have some big storms over you there...
Member Since: August 6, 2011 Posts: 5 Comments: 50197
888. txjac
Wow, loving all the outlooks for rain in Texas!
Hopefully not severe just one of those all day nice rain drenchers. I live wher it floods so let it be a slow, gentle rain. If it's going to be fierce rain I'll be working from home ...nothing like flooded streets to battle.
Member Since: April 24, 2010 Posts: 3 Comments: 2951
Quoting AussieStorm:

Morning Max. Going to get to 90°F (+11°F above average) here today.

Hey Aussie, yes I will more than likely be complaining when I get those 90s (boiling 100Fs) in August/September
Member Since: April 23, 2011 Posts: 104 Comments: 14875
Quoting islander101010:
you can show a girl from greenland wearing a bathing suit id still not be sold on global warming no sign of it today here in e cen fl low 40s
There's no shame in admitting that you've closed off your mind to scientific evidence--and you're certainly not alone in doing so (see: "Representatives, U.S. House of")
Member Since: November 8, 2009 Posts: 4 Comments: 14442
About when and where weather will rumble, accuweather



Member Since: April 23, 2011 Posts: 104 Comments: 14875
Quoting FLWeatherFreak91:
I got down to 34.3 just north of Tampa. Craziness


Crazy is right FL..
Come August I will try to remember these temps while cleaning the gutters..again..Lol.. :)
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
dumps more snow SC US

Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Found this long range



lotta rain
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting trHUrrIXC5MMX:
Good Morning everyone, what a bright sunny day here.. expecting to reach warm 50s today

Morning Max. Going to get to 90°F (+11°F above average) here today.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting pcola57:


Good Morning Max..
Gonna reach 60 here today.. :)


:(
give me a month to get there

hi Pcola
Member Since: April 23, 2011 Posts: 104 Comments: 14875
Member Since: August 6, 2011 Posts: 5 Comments: 50197
Quoting LargoFl:
I think this might be the next cold front next week...


That system next week looks potent as lots of jet energy may dive down into the NE Gulf and develope a pretty strong low and slide it across N FL.
Member Since: February 28, 2013 Posts: 15 Comments: 8235
you can show a girl from greenland wearing a bathing suit id still not be sold on global warming. no sign of it today here in e cen fl. low 40s
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Quoting trHUrrIXC5MMX:
Good Morning everyone, what a bright sunny day here.. expecting to reach warm 50s today


Good Morning Max..
Gonna reach 60 here today.. :)
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Good Morning everyone, what a bright sunny day here.. expecting to reach warm 50s today
Member Since: April 23, 2011 Posts: 104 Comments: 14875
I think this might be the next cold front next week...
Member Since: August 6, 2011 Posts: 5 Comments: 50197
Quoting FLWeatherFreak91:
I got down to 34.3 just north of Tampa. Craziness


Heck, that's the same temperature as here in Scotland, and we're about 10C below the average for the time of year. I'm dreaming of a white Easter.
Member Since: July 20, 2008 Posts: 0 Comments: 3276
Quoting FLWeatherFreak91:
I got down to 34.3 just north of Tampa. Craziness
yes this cold is terrible..did you get alot of frost where you are?
Member Since: August 6, 2011 Posts: 5 Comments: 50197
wow look at Texas next wenesday..................
Member Since: August 6, 2011 Posts: 5 Comments: 50197
Quoting LargoFl:
Looks like Oklahoma gets some Nice rains Saturday.....


They need it Largo. Very dry across the MidWest.

Member Since: February 28, 2013 Posts: 15 Comments: 8235
Quoting pcola57:
Good Morning All..
Broke another low temp record this am..
34degrees..record of 35 in 2006..

A rather cold looking sunrise this am..

I got down to 34.3 just north of Tampa. Craziness
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting StormTrackerScott:


WOW! 68 Dewpoint seems high for Sydney. That's FL weather;)

Hence why I am sweating here.
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Quoting StormTrackerScott:


You stay safe as I see some frequent lightning heading your way by the looks of that map you posted. MJO is very strong by you right now so you could be in for a wet ride the next several days.


Yeah, we are expecting that front this afternoon or in about 14hrs. We are only forecasted to have rain, no storms but I'll have my GoPro going all day taking a photo every 30 seconds. If anything "exciting" happens, I'll produce a video out of them like I did from last Fridays Thunderstorm.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Looks like Oklahoma gets some Nice rains Saturday.....
Member Since: August 6, 2011 Posts: 5 Comments: 50197
Quoting AussieStorm:
Current obs...
Temp: 72.0°F
Wind: Calm
RH: 88%
Dew Point: 68.2°F
Forecast overnight low: 64°F (+3.6°F above average)
Forecast High: 90°F (+11°F above average)

This is not normal Autumn temps
Currently


WOW! 68 Dewpoint seems high for Sydney. That's FL weather;)
Member Since: February 28, 2013 Posts: 15 Comments: 8235
One more night florida..................COLD IMPACT...
LOW TEMPERATURES WILL FALL INTO THE 30S FOR MANY LOCATIONS AWAY
FROM THE IMMEDIATE COAST TONIGHT. ALTHOUGH SUB FREEZING
TEMPERATURES ARE NOT EXPECTED...AREAS OF FROST WILL BE A CONCERN
AFTER MIDNIGHT.
Member Since: August 6, 2011 Posts: 5 Comments: 50197
Current obs...
Temp: 72.0°F
Wind: Calm
RH: 88%
Dew Point: 68.2°F
Forecast overnight low: 64°F (+3.6°F above average)
Forecast High: 90°F (+11°F above average)

This is not normal Autumn temps
Currently
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting AussieStorm:

Cool, What's that. I'm sweating my .... off here. High humidity brought down by NW'erly winds. But we have a cold front on it's way.

Here it is moving through the south of my State.



Link


You stay safe as I see some frequent lightning heading your way by the looks of that map you posted. MJO is very strong by you right now so you could be in for a wet ride the next several days.

Member Since: February 28, 2013 Posts: 15 Comments: 8235
Member Since: August 6, 2011 Posts: 5 Comments: 50197
Cool SST's right now but come May 1st well likely see these temps around 80. It seems no matter how cold the winter or early Spring come May those temps are always atleast 80.

Member Since: February 28, 2013 Posts: 15 Comments: 8235
Quoting StormTrackerScott:
Interesting warming happening across the enso regions of the Pacific. Could be the start of a developing El-Nino.



Also notice the MJO increasing across the Caribbean come April. That's interesting as well as this could trigger an early start to our Tropical Season. Invest come early May? Well see.



Anybody's guess this far out as to what will happen this year........I am "guessing" an opposite scenario (given the warming Pacific). A real active E-Pac season, shutting down the Atlantic Season in June- July, first storm of the Atlantic season around Aug 15th, several CV storm clusters in Aug-Sept, then a few storms in October-November with a total of about 20 between August and November.

How it that for a wild guess?................... :)
Member Since: August 8, 2006 Posts: 0 Comments: 10726
Quoting StormTrackerScott:


Hows the weather by you Aussie? Getting cool by you yet?

Cool, What's that. I'm sweating my .... off here. High humidity brought down by NW'erly winds. But we have a cold front on it's way.

Here it is moving through the south of my State.



Link
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Interesting warming happening across the enso regions of the Pacific. Could be the start of a developing El-Nino.



Also notice the MJO increasing across the Caribbean come April. That's interesting as well as this could trigger an early start to our Tropical Season. Invest come early May? Well see.

Member Since: February 28, 2013 Posts: 15 Comments: 8235
Quoting wxchaser97:

At least for me, the next several days should feature a warmup that brings highs close to average. After that though, temperatures are falling right back below average. I would like a nice steady, big warmup that last for more than a few days, but whatever.

You got that graphing idea from chat last night. I made one too last night, but also with major hurricanes and hurricanes included.
Now, what would that look like plotted starting from, say, the 1930s instead of the 1970s? The 1970s were a period of relative cyclical quiet in the Atlantic Basin.

Member Since: November 25, 2009 Posts: 0 Comments: 530
Good Morning All. Super cool to see Dr. Masters sprinkled throughout the day on Weather Channel coverage; looking at TWC last night and up pops Dr. M talking about Enso and the upcoming hurricane season.

Feels weird; this has been "our club" for the last several years, with Dr. M being a well kept secret so to speak for those not in the know, and now we have to share him with the rest of the folks.

On the super cool note, quite the late March onslaught this year in terms of Old Man Winter. The locals/old timers around here called it right (I thought they were crazy) with the comments at the end of January; "warm Jan = a really cold March"..........If you live long enough, I suppose you see a lot.............
Member Since: August 8, 2006 Posts: 0 Comments: 10726
Good Morning All..
Broke another low temp record this am..
34degrees..record of 35 in 2006..

A rather cold looking sunrise this am..

Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Cold in Europe as well.

Member Since: February 28, 2013 Posts: 15 Comments: 8235
Warmup begins tomorrow.

Member Since: February 28, 2013 Posts: 15 Comments: 8235
Quoting MahFL:
@

By "weather" you mean climate ? right ?


Yes. Fixed. Thank you!
Member Since: February 28, 2013 Posts: 15 Comments: 8235
Geesh can't seem to get my hands warm. This Florida boy is not used to this cold weather.

Unreal!
Member Since: February 28, 2013 Posts: 15 Comments: 8235
849. MahFL
@
Quoting StormTrackerScott:


... Do I think the weather is changing yes but do I believe it's all man related no.


By "weather" you mean climate ? right ?
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Quoting AussieStorm:


Climate change is happening... The climate changes everyday :-)


Hows the weather by you Aussie? Getting cool by you yet?
Member Since: February 28, 2013 Posts: 15 Comments: 8235
Good morning all. I woke to a cool 56 degrees here in Key West. BRRRRRRR! I should have worn my socks! LOL Maybe we already had a pole shift and now the north pole is in the middle of the US??? We are expected to get back to the 80's this weekend. Thank goodness. I don't ever remember having a cool Easter down here. We would always go to the beach for an Easter picnic. Well with these current temps, no swimming for me on Easter this year. Everyone have a great day!
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Quoting Neapolitan:
No one here has ever been "pulverized" for expressing their opinions on climate change (or pretty much anything else). However, being that this is ostensibly a science-based blog forum, those stating things as fact that run counter to science are indeed asked to support those statements with credible data. If they can't, and instead simply double down on their anti-science rhetoric, then they will often be challenged, sometimes at a level they may find uncomfortable.

In short:

A) Opinions expressed as such are fine: "I don't think climate change is happening."

B) Opinions expressed as fact are not: "The earth hasn't warmed in 15 years."


Climate change is happening... The climate changes everyday :-)
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Quoting StormTrackerScott:


I know the feeling. I expressed my feelings on Climate change last week and got polverized for it. So I guess It's best just to stick to weather and let these other stick figuers argue about something that can't be proven 100%. Do I think the weather is changing yes but do I believe it's all man related no.
No one here has ever been "pulverized" for expressing their opinions on climate change (or pretty much anything else). However, being that this is ostensibly a science-based blog forum, those stating things as fact that run counter to science are indeed asked to support those statements with credible data. If they can't, and instead simply double down on their anti-science rhetoric, then they will often be challenged, sometimes at a level they may find uncomfortable.

In short:

A) Opinions expressed as such are fine: "I don't think climate change is happening."

B) Opinions expressed as fact are not: "The earth hasn't warmed in 15 years."
Member Since: November 8, 2009 Posts: 4 Comments: 14442
Quoting wxchaser97:

At least for me, the next several days should feature a warmup that brings highs close to average. After that though, temperatures are falling right back below average. I would like a nice steady, big warmup that last for more than a few days, but whatever.

You got that graphing idea from chat last night. I made one too last night, but also with major hurricanes and hurricanes included.


TA13 I like your graph but I really like this one with a Cat 5 Katrina in the background.
Member Since: February 28, 2013 Posts: 15 Comments: 8235
Quoting trunkmonkey:


I know a few of the old bloggers, who have left, I still blog and chat every once in a while, they said they left here and will not return do to the mean spirited, viscious global warming crowd, they were attacked when they disagreed with their findings, they had enough and are no longer here!


I know the feeling. I expressed my feelings on Climate change last week and got pulverized for it. So I guess It's best just to stick to weather and let these other stick figures argue about something that can't be proven 100%. Do I think the climate is changing yes but do I believe it's all man related no.
Member Since: February 28, 2013 Posts: 15 Comments: 8235
Quoting TropicalAnalystwx13:
Good morning.

The United States looks outbreak-free through the first week of April. A few days ago the GFS had been showing a very potent cut-off low with very nice return flow--advance of moisture to the north in advance of a strong storm system--but it has gradually trended more weak and south. With its current depiction, isolated severe weather would be possible across coastal Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, and potentially Florida on April 4, but that's about it.

A new storm system is depicted in the very long range, on April 9, but that's too far out to worry about right now.

I graphed this last night.


At least for me, the next several days should feature a warmup that brings highs close to average. After that though, temperatures are falling right back below average. I would like a nice steady, big warmup that last for more than a few days, but whatever.

You got that graphing idea from chat last night. I made one too last night, but also with major hurricanes and hurricanes included.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:

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Dr. Masters co-founded wunderground in 1995. He flew with the NOAA Hurricane Hunters from 1986-1990. Co-blogging with him: Bob Henson, @bhensonweather

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