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Monday, November 11, 2013

David Spratt: Typhoon Haiyan and climate change: connecting the dots

by David Spratt, Climate Code Red, November 12, 2013

Yeb Sano, head of Philippines  delegation to the UN climate talks:

"What my country is going through as a result of this extreme climate event is madness... The climate crisis is madness. We can stop this madness. Right here in Warsaw. Typhoons such as Haiyan and its impacts represent a sobering reminder to the international community that we cannot afford to procrastinate on climate action... Science tells us that simply, climate change will mean more intense tropical storms. As the Earth warms up, that would include the oceans. The energy that is stored in the waters off the Philippines will increase the intensity of typhoons and the trend we now see is that more destructive storms will be the new norm."

MunichRe statement 11 November 2013:

"Eastern Asia has been hard hit by weather-related loss events in the past three decades. Their number has increased by more than a factor of four, causing overall losses from weather-related events of some US$ 700bn during this period. The insured losses of US$ 76bn amounted to only around 10% of overall losses, with 62% of these attributable to Japan. Floods caused 56% of the overall losses in Eastern Asia, but only 30% of insured losses. The number of floods has increased strongly and is expected to increase further in the coming decades. With insured losses of US$ 16bn, the 2011 Thailand floods caused the biggest-ever weather-related insured loss in the region. After floods, it is typhoons that cause the greatest weather-related losses. New analyses indicate a clear cycle of activity for typhoons, and increased typhoon activity is expected over the coming years."

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Reinsurance giant, MunichRe:

"Nowhere in the world are weather risks changing faster than in Eastern Asia"

"As a result of climate change... the intensity of typhoons will increase" in Eastern Asia

Increasing frequency of extreme typhoons:

"Excluding super typhoon Haiyan, five of the 10 deadliest cyclones in the Philippines occurred in the past decade: Winnie in 2004, Durian in 2006, Fengshen in 2008, Washi in 2011 and Bopha in 2012.'

"Six of the 10 costliest typhoons in the Philippines, typically in hundreds of millions of dollars, also occurred in the past decade (Fengshen/ 2008, Parma and Ketsana/ 2009, Megi/ 2010, Nesat/2011 and Bopha/2012). Notice the yearly succession."

Now is the time to implement the bold, deep
and necessary emissions cuts our world so
desperately needs to avoid further tragedies
Nature journal: "Did climate change cause Typhoon Haiyan?
"There is limited evidence that warming oceans could make superstorms more likely."

"Was Haiyan the strongest storm ever measured? Apparently, yes. With sustained wind speeds of more than 310 kilometres per hour, Haiyan was the most powerful tropical cyclone to make landfall in recorded history. The previous record was held by Hurricane Camille, which in 1969 hit the state of Mississippi with wind speeds of just over 300 km/h." 

New research on  “Pacific Ocean Heat Content During the Past 10,000 Years”

The recent oceanic warming is happening at a historically unprecedented rate: "rate of change in ocean heat content is 15 times greater now than it’s been in the last 7,000 or 8,000 years"

Typhoon Haiyan influenced by climate change, scientists say:

“Once [cyclones] do form, they get most of their energy from the surface waters of the ocean,” Professor Steffen said. “We know sea-surface temperatures are warming pretty much around the planet, so that's a pretty direct influence of climate change on the nature of the storm.”

Data compiled from the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration shows sea temperatures were about 0.5 to 1 degree above normal in the waters to the east of the Philippines as Haiyan began forming. The waters cooled in the storm's wake, an indication of how the storm sucked up energy.

Extreme risk 
Manila, Philippines, now 2nd most at risk city to climate change, in "extreme" category

Research paper: Tropical cyclones and climate change:
"future projections based on theory and high-resolution dynamical models consistently indicate that greenhouse warming will cause the globally averaged intensity of tropical cyclones to shift towards stronger storms, with intensity increases of 2–11% by 2100....  higher resolution modelling studies typically project substantial increases in the frequency of the most intense cyclones, and increases of the order of 20% in the precipitation rate within 100 km of the storm centre.

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