The only thing we can be sure of about the future is that it will be absolutely fantastic. So if what I say now seems to you to be very reasonable, then I have failed completely. Only if what I tell you appears absolutely unbelievable, have we any chance of visualizing the future as it really will happen.

- Arthur C. Clarke (h/t Brin)

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Jeff Masters on Flooding and Warming

Jeff Masters says, in contemplating the recent flooding disasters:
An inordinate number of major U.S. floods this year
We've had an inordinate number of severe floods in the U.S. so far this year. The worst was the May Tennessee flood, which killed 31 people--the highest death toll from a non-tropical cyclone flooding event in the U.S. since 1994, and the most devastating disaster in Tennessee since the Civil War. The Tennessee floods were rated as a 1000-year flood for Middle Tennessee, West Tennessee, South Central and Western Kentucky and northern Mississippi.
...
We cannot say that any of this year's flooding disasters were definitely due to global warming, and part of the reason for this year's numerous U.S. flooding disasters is simply bad luck. However, higher temperatures do cause an increased chance of heavy precipitation events, and it is likely that the flooding in some of this year's U.S. flooding disasters were significantly enhanced by the presence of more water vapor in the air due to global warming. We can expect a large increase in flooding disasters in the U.S. and worldwide if the climate continues to warm as expected.

I think Nielsen-Gammon was wrong in his analysis of the Nashville flood.

2 comments:

Steve Bloom said...

Joe Romm has a very topical interview with Kevin Trenberth.

glacierchange said...

Jeff has put this well. It goes past the flooding to the issue of the increased moisture for snow events such as the Appalachians and mid-Atlantic states had this winter. At the Eastern Snow Conference last week this topic was discussed in detail.