According to three West Virginia University experts who research different aspects of climate change, the need for mitigation in hurricane-prone areas is growing, as ocean temperatures rise and hurricanes increase in frequency and intensity. And one of those experts says we have “centuries” of climate change ahead, even if we start preventive measures immediately.
Director, Institute of Water Security and Science
Associate Dean of Research and Professor, Hydrology and Water Quality
Davis College of Agriculture, Natural Resources and Design, WVU
“Warmer sea surface temperatures increase the maximum potential intensity of tropical cyclones—potential intensity because anomalously warm sea surface temperatures don't spawn hurricanes all by themselves. The rapid intensification of Maria was remarkable and highly unusual, particularly for how far east it was (not quite in the Caribbean yet). Generally speaking, favorable conditions for development of a tropical wave are a moist middle troposphere with minimal vertical wind shear. The depth of warmer than normal waters is also important as winds of that magnitude create lots of wave activity/vertical mixing in the near surface waters, which can upwell cooler waters and thus lower latent heat fluxes.”
“Climates are not discreet separate things whereby it may affect other people’s climate ‘but not us.’ I no longer think in terms of what can we do to stop it, but rather how can we keep it from getting as bad as it will likely get. Every year of doing nothing is putting another deposit into the climate change account. And compound interest applies to more than just savings or debt. The relentless compound growth in atmospheric CO2 means that we already have centuries of climate change, at some level, to ‘look forward to.’ What we have done to the atmosphere will take many centuries for nature to undo. It really comes down to the following dilemma: In order to save civilization as we know it, we will have to change civilization as we know it.”
Contact: 304.581.1826; Robert.Duval@hsc.wvu.edu
“While the response communities continue to improve their capacity and ability, the real improvements in disaster management for the future need to come in the form of mitigation. Unfortunately, mitigation is difficult. While places like the Dept. of Homeland Security Center of Excellence in Coastal Resilience and the Natural Hazards Center already have many solutions to problems presented by disasters, frequently the political will to devote resources to these problems in non-emergent times simply does not exist. Overcoming this problem is perhaps the largest barrier to hazards management in the U.S.”
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