second recent Ellicott City Flood dumped an amazing 9.6 inches of
rain within just three hours. Climate change increases the ability of
the strongest storms to generate more intense downpours by loading up
the atmosphere with moisture and by increasing instability in certain
regions. The Eastern U.S. is particularly prone to increasing
rainfall intensity due to a warming Gulf of Mexico, a warming North
Atlantic off the U.S. East Coast and due to an instability-generating
cool pool off Greenland fed by glacial melt water. Image
Scope and The
to human-forced climate change, the intensity of rainfall events,
particularly in the strongest storms, is increasing across the U.S.
with the greatest increase over the eastern half of the country. This
record of increasingly severe rainstorms due to human-forced climate
change isn’t just limited to the U.S. It
is a global phenomenon.
Image source: The
National Climate Assessment and Katherine
the climate dice are now loaded for more such ‘1 in 1,000 year
events.’ So what happened in Ellicott City this weekend should not
be attributed to some ‘fluke local weather event.’ Climate change
increases the potential for these kinds of storms. So we’ll see
more and worse such instances as we keep warming up our atmosphere,
heating the oceans, and melting glaciers.