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How does climate change increase the severity of Hurricane Florence?

Here’s how climate change is fueling Hurricane Florence A novel forecast looks at the size and fury of the storm with and without human-caused warming, Science News, BY CAROLYN GRAMLING , SEPTEMBER 13, 2018 

Even as Hurricane Florence bears down on the Carolinas, bringing fierce winds and heavy rains, one team of scientists has undertaken a different kind of forecast: Understanding the influence of human-caused climate change on a storm that hasn’t made landfall yet.

Real-time storm forecasts continuously update as new data become available. But what would happen if, from a single starting point — in this case, the state of the atmosphere on September 11 — Florence roared ahead in two parallel worlds: one with and one without the influence of human-caused climate change?

In that hypothetical scenario, Florence was bigger than if it would be if it had occurred in a world with no human-caused warming, climate modeler Kevin Reed of Stony Brook University in New York and colleagues conclude in a study posted on the university’s website September 12. And thanks to warmer sea surface temperatures and more available moisture in the air, it would dump 50 percent more rain on the Carolinas, the researchers predict.

The goal of such climate change attribution studies is to determine whether — and by how much — human-driven climate change might have caused a particular extreme event, such as a hurricane, a heat wave or a flood. It’s an increasingly high-profile area of research, particularly after three studies last year found that a trio of extreme events in 2016 simply could not have happened without climate change (SN: 1/20/18, p. 6).

Until now, such studies have been conducted only when the event is long over. Reed and his colleagues got a jump on that question, conducting the first attribution study for an extreme event that is still in progress. It’s not yet clear what role such real-time attribution studies might play in society; they could aid emergency planning, policy making and even climate-related litigation.

In the meantime, what this study reveals is that “dangerous climate change is here now,” says study coauthor Michael Wehner, a climate scientist at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory in California. “The chances and magnitude of dangerous extreme weather have already been significantly increased.”

Reed talked with Science News about what a forecast attribution study is, how the new study suggests climate change may have altered Florence’s rainfall and size, and the future of real-time attribution. His responses are edited for space and clarity………

September 14, 2018 - Posted by | climate change, USA

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