Just Released! Order “Waking Up to Climate Change” by George Ropes, and receive 25% Discount. Learn More

Close this search box.
Close this search box.

HOME          CATEGORIES          OUR TAKE

Peak Hurricane Season & Climate Change = Mega Harvey

Scientists and meteorologists alike know that Hurricane Harvey is occurring during one of the most hurricane-friendly regions of the world at the very peak of hurricane season. But reasons for the force of this hurricane have now included climate change and global warming into the equation. Climate change didn’t cause Hurricane Harvey, but it very probably is making it worse.

Now, in the wake of this mega hurricane, numerous opinions abound on the role climate change played in the storm’s massive force and devastation. Many facts can’t be denied. The sea level has risen about 6 inches in the past two decades, which increases the chance and severity of flooding. In an article by German Lopez for Vox.com, he quotes renowned climatologist Michael E. Mann  who prefaced his explanation by saying it was “unclear if global warming will lead to more storms like Harvey.” What was clear to him was that rising sea levels in the Houston area in the last few decades made the region more and more prone to dangerous flooding. Adding to that is the rising water temperature of more than a degree both on and below the surface, and spiking land temperatures from  1°C (34.7 farenheit) to 1.5°C (33.8 farenheit), both trends have put  3 to 5 percent more moisture in the atmosphere. More moisture in the air means more rain. The result has been unprecedented catastrophic rainfall and flooding.


A recent article in the Atlantic says the “sea-surface waters near Texas rose to between 2.7 and 7.2 degrees Fahrenheit above average” and were some of the hottest spots of ocean surface in the world, making Harvey feed “off this unusual warmth…and was able to progress from a tropical depression to a category-four hurricane in roughly 48 hours.” Kevin Trenberth, a senior scientist at the US National Center for Atmospheric Research, was quoted in the Atlantic saying, “The human contribution can be up to 30 percent or so up to the total rainfall coming out of the storm. … It may have been a strong storm, and it may have caused a lot of problems anyway — but [human-caused climate change] amplifies the damage considerably.”

In a series on Houston’s flood risk on propublica.org, reporters not only looked at how climate change will bring more frequent and fierce rainstorms to cities like Houston, but how growing development and urban sprawl in this loosely zoned city is creating greater flood risks. Houston’s unchecked growth has seen builders ignoring strict regulations by paving over natural prairie land that once could absorb huge amounts of rainwater. In a storm like Harvey, this phenomena has overtly played out by turning streets into waterways, overflowing in the bayou network, drainage systems and reservoirs.

As Texas struggles with surviving Harvey, perhaps a resiliency plan will emerge as they prepare for future hurricanes.

Comment on this article

ClimateYou moderates comments to facilitate an informed, substantive, civil conversation. Abusive, profane, self-promotional, misleading, incoherent or off-topic comments will be rejected. Moderators are staffed during regular business hours (New York time) and can only accept comments written in English.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

The reCAPTCHA verification period has expired. Please reload the page.


More Posts Like This


How Climate Change is Changing My Home City

As a person living in a coastal city, more specifically New York City, my area of living is a prime target for climate change occurrences. From rising sea levels and temperatures to structures being damaged or completely destroyed, a lot will change and has changed in my home,


Climate Change and the Industries of the World

It’s no surprise that when the climate of an area changes, it impacts most, if not all of their industries and way of life of countries. Some of these industries include tourism, agriculture, fishery, and infrastructure, which all dictate the economy and life quality of the residents in


Floods, Sea Level Rise & Ocean Warming

Climate exchange is an urgent worldwide problem that manifests in plenty of approaches, together with greater common, extreme floods, and growing sea degrees. These phenomena pose incredible perils to human life foundations and environments. Additionally, they affect farming, industry, and tourism, influencing employment and meal security. This paper