Storm surges are becoming more severe with the rise of sea level. As the sea level rises, storm surges are more likely to be devastating and more intense because when a storm comes through, and sea levels are higher, the waves are going to be much bigger, which causes the storm surges to devastate areas of where that storm will hit. Storm surges cause massive destruction no matter the size of the wave, but with storm surges growing intensely with higher sea levels, means more devastation and more lives lost. This also includes more land being taken over by water from the sea. Also, making it harder to rebuild infrastructure that was once there before the storm surge hit. So, let’s talk about how warming the climate will cause storm surges to be more intense and bigger in height.
Warming the climate worsens these storm surges because the warmer the climate the higher the sea level gets, which intensifies the hurricanes intensity and also increases wave energy. The other factors of hurricanes that make up the storm surge intensity depend on the position, size, and pressure of the hurricane. If the winds in a hurricane are very strong with minimum pressures, that’ll give fuel to the storm surge as well. In the 21st century maximum winds and minimum pressures are supposed to intensify, and models have shown tropical storms will increase intensity by 2-11% by 2100. For every 1-degree Celsius increase in the ocean temperatures, wind speeds from tropical storms are expected to increase by 5%, and this is based off models that predicted climate change would play a factor in this. With this being said, climate change would intensify a tropical storm and a hurricanes storm surge because of putting greenhouse gases into the atmosphere, which causes warming to the ocean. Which melts the ice glaciers in our poles, and then causes the sea level to rise. Therefore, the maximum winds and high sea levels cause massive waves, and the storm surge that would come onto land, would be catastrophic if warming continues. Storm surges now, are bad, but with the temperatures rising and more greenhouses gases being pushed into the atmosphere, it will just grow the intensity of the storm, which then makes waves of the storm surge so much higher.
This video is how climate change has brought storm surges to worsen and some factors of how that’s happening and impacts of these factors.
Storm surges play a huge factor in tropical storms and hurricanes. Storm surges are the most worrisome when it comes to these storms. Yes, winds itself, are also a worry, but storm surges cause massive flooding to coastal areas and with that, it can leave structures that were once there, completely underwater. This could make it hard to rebuild and sometimes that structure won’t be able to be built back to the way it was, depending on if the water recedes, and if it can be built back, it has to be mounted higher off the ground so that next time if a storm were to come through, less damage and flooding to the property would be limited. Also, storm surges can destroy crops for people and can also cause the soil in the ground to be ruined by toxins, which would cause farmers to lose money because they no longer have products to give to the public. Winds of a hurricane matter just as much as the storm surge but winds can destroy homes and property of any sort, but you have a better chance of building back with high winds, but with a high wave storm surge, it could cause catastrophic damage to where things won’t be able to go back to the way they were because the water from the storm could cause flooding, which can then destroy livestock and property permanently.
The destruction from a storm surge like we talked about, can be very bad depending on the storm’s intensity, wind speed, and minimum pressures. Climate change plays a factor in this all because over time greenhouse gases have been put into the atmosphere causing warming to oceans, which then fuels the storm and everything else a storm can do, especially creating catastrophic storm surges and high wind speeds. Now that we talked about the damage from the storm surge and how climate change impacts that, let’s talk about how climate change plays in part with wind shear. Wind shear is the measure of how much the wind changes speed and direction between the ground and higher elevations in the atmosphere. Since climate change is changing the energy in the atmosphere and warming is becoming difficult for us to control now that we have released these greenhouse gases into the atmosphere, let’s talk about how wind shear has a strong influence on the development and intensity of hurricanes.
Camelo, Jeane. Mayo, Talea L. and Gutmann, Ethan D. “Projected Climate Change Impacts on Hurricane Storm Surge Inundation in the Coastal United States.” Frontiers in Built Environments. 2020. March 7, 2022. https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fbuil.2020.588049/full
NOAA’s National Ocean Service. (2015, May 28). Hurricane Storm Surge. NOAA.s National Ocean Service [Video]. Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2GgUn2QTJtE
Vox. (2017, August 28). How Climate Change Makes Hurricanes Worse. Vox [Video] Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_0TCrGtTEQM