US Could Suffer a 'Katrina' Every Other Year
Major storm surges could happen 10 times as often by century's end: study
By Matt Cantor, Newser User
Posted Mar 19, 2013 7:42 AM CDT
In this Jan. 31, 2013, photo, damaged houses sit vacant in the Lower Ninth Ward of New Orleans, a neighborhood that was hit hard by floodwaters from a levee break after Hurricane Katrina.   (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)

(Newser) – A new study offers a dire warning about climate change: Hurricanes like Katrina could be commonplace by century's end. Researchers found that intense storm surges, typically the deadliest aspect of such storms, could become 10 times as frequent over upcoming decades if the climate warms by 3.6 degrees. "This means that there will be a Katrina-magnitude storm surge every other year," says the lead researcher.

One estimate pegs the expected temperature rise at between 2.0 and 5.2 degrees over the rest of the century—and that's a best-case scenario, USA Today notes. When the climate gets 0.7 degrees warmer, that "corresponds to a doubling of the frequency of extreme storm surges like the one during Hurricane Katrina," the researcher notes. "We have already crossed the threshold where more than half of all 'Katrinas' are due to global warming." But another climate expert calls the study "very misleading" because it's constructed from "a very incomplete data set"—tide gauge measurements at just six Southeastern locations.

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Mar 19, 2013 8:33 PM CDT
Here's the deal with this dumb study Warmer climate equals a dustier Africa. Yes this is a real thing, not made up. The hotter it is in Africa the more Saharan dust. What this does, is cause extremely dry dust to travel from east to west off the coast of Africa, chocking the life blood out of possible tropical development It can also cause higher wind share, which tears these Hurricanes and Cyclones apart and drives the dry layer air into the core of these storms over the main development region. Warm water is only one ingredient and can't create monster storms alone. Kind of the same way you can't make a cake out of just eggs. There's also something called "total ocean heat content" meaning that warmer than average surface temps don't always translate to good fuel for a tropical cyclone. A slow to moderate moving cyclone causes up welling of the water, bring colder water to the surface from deeper depths, and chocking off the fuel supply. It's only select areas in the Atlantic where this warm water extends to deep enough levels to support a Cat 4 or 5. In the gulf, there is a very small area called the Gulf Loop Eddy, Katrina made an improbable pass over it's exact location while being in moist atmospheric conditions under a high pressure dome with almost none existent wind share aloft, causing the storm to blow up. This is just another dooms day prediction which can probably have it's funding traced back to Carbon Tax advocates. If world leaders really wanted to do something about whatever climate change is caused by man, then they should stop nation building and shrink the Military Industrial Complex. "If it's yellow let it mellow" or "remember to turn off your AC for an hour a day" isn't going to stop whatever man made climate change there is. One last thing. Katrina was not especially exceptional as far as hurricanes go, it just happened to hit an exceptionally vulnerable section of coast line.
Mar 19, 2013 11:49 AM CDT
There are three separate issues regarding global warming. 1) Is the planet warming? 2) Is the warming due to humans? 3) What will be the consequences of a warmer planet? Science is fairly certain about the first two (the answer is yes). Not all of the consequences will be predicted or predicted accurately though. When discussing global warming with someone it is important that you specify which of these three things you're talking about.
Mar 19, 2013 11:43 AM CDT
Yes, climate change is real and, yes, the Earth is warming. There's also a good chance that human activity is speeding up the process. However, these OMGHURRICANEDOOOOOOM articles are so common as to no longer be newsworthy. They come out every year, usually multiple times, and the data is always horribly skewed.