Photo: USA today
A groundbreaking tornado season, and flooding on a biblical proportion across the Mississippi river basin and the mid west, has taken it’s toll on the continental United States. Many states have seen their rainfall records broken and crop yields have hit all time lows, staggering lows, in many areas. The impulse of severe wet weather has affected the livelihoods of millions across the continental United States, a serious issue.
Scientists are now saying that the severe flooding is most likely caused by climate change.
David Easterling, the chief of the scientific services devision at the National Ocean and Atmospheric Administration, states that “When you warm up the atmosphere, the atmosphere can hold more moisture,” in this article from the National Geographic.
With more moisture in the atmosphere, there is more moisture that needs to come back down. This results in increased rainfall rates. When you combine this effect with the usual variation in weather patterns, the possibilities for major weather events, begin to mount.
However the article also states “that it is difficult to link one single weather event to climate change”, and this statement is true. Even before climate change was really a “thing”, severe weather events still occurred, and they have done so throughout the history of weather itself. As a result one needs to be cautious when making claims like “this is climate change in action”.
Contrastingly, the science is solid that increased temperature and the resultant changes in the hydrological (water cycle), have big impacts on big weather events, such as hurricanes and large scale flooding.
Human action has made the surface more susceptible to flooding
Because there is more concrete and less vegetation on the surface, for example in the Mid West and Mississippi river basin, the absorption rates of water into the earth are reduced, meaning saturation of top soil and the surface occurs much easier. This results in faster flooding, than would be the case before humans made these changes. So, even if there is no link between this unfortunate severe weather event and climate change, the manipulation of our environment has undoubtedly made things worse for us.
This, combined with climate change, could work together to create some challenging environments in the future, and threaten future livelihoods.