The strongest storm ever recorded in the USA heartland swept through Tuesday. The continent-spanning storm system spawned tornadoes, violent thunderstorms and drenching rains. The pressure plunged to 954.9mb (28.2”) in Minnesota marking the lowest ever recorded anywhere in the interior of the continental USA. You can learn more about this very impressive storm at http://www.wunderground.com/blog/JeffMasters/comment.html?entrynum=1674
A fundamental prediction of climate science is that as our climate continues to warm, the most violent storms will grow ever more violent. Measurements show Earth’s warming atmosphere already holds 4% more water vapour. Water vapour is the fuel of storms. As it condenses into water droplets it releases 500 calories of heat energy per gram of water. More water = more heat = more wind. A mere 10% increase in wind speed increases damages by over 30%. As we burn fossil fuels we are literally throwing more fuel into the firebox of our planet’s monster storms -- for decades to come.
NASA’s top climate scientist, James Hansen, titled his book on climate change: “Storms of My Grandchildren: The Truth about the Coming Climate Catastrophe and Our Last Chance to Save Humanity.” In it he says: “Storms. That is the one word that will best characterize twenty-first century climate, as policy makers continue along their well-trodden path of much talk without fundamental change of direction. Our grandchildren are in for a rough ride.” Hansen’s oldest grandchild is already in school.
Our warming climate has put lots more water into our atmosphere. And that is already, as predicted, causing more violent storms, greater downpours, bigger snowfalls and record flooding. Canadians release more greenhouse gases – per person – than we did in 1990. Even in Vancouver, vying to be the greenest city, more fossil fuels are burned than in 1990. Until we stop burning fossil fuels, our worst storms will continue to grow ever more violent.