Climate Change: Simply Explained

McKenna Johnson, Reporter

A change in global and regional climate patterns, in particular a change apparent from the mid to late 20th century onwards and attributed largely to the increased levels of atmospheric carbon dioxide produced by the use of fossil fuels.

Ask google for the definition of climate change, and this is what you’ll get.

As of October 9th, we have experienced 14 hurricanes since the 2018 Atlantic Hurricane Season started. This year, Hurricane Season runs from June 1st through November 20th, and has so far contained hurricanes between Category 1 and Category 4.

How do tropical storms correlate to climate change? First, it is important to obtain a decent background knowledge as to what climate change is, going beyond the definition provided by google.

“The earth’s atmospheres and the earth’s oceans are warming, and it seems insignificant, as far as the mound of temperature change, but our atmosphere is kind of this sweet spot, really, and humans are actually sort of delicate, and lots of other creatures are delicate as well, and wouldn’t be able to handle the tremendous change in temperature.”

This is what Charlene Becerra, a Boise High chemistry and forensics teacher, had to say when asked to simplify climate change and why its effects matter and shouldn’t be easily dismissed

It is also important to remember that climate change is different than weather. “Climate is really more of the range of weather you can expect this season.”

As the industrial revolution kicked into high gear, the warming trend of our climate since 20,000 BCE began to speed up rapidly. Air planes, world wars, nuclear weapons and most notably emissions have accelerated our earth’s warming pattern at an alarming rate.

Now, as for how this trend effects tropical storms. There is much uncertainty surrounding this topic. Because sea surface temperatures are so sensitive, warmer sea surface temperatures caused by climate change can accelerate a tropical storms wind speed.

With sea levels projected to rise 1 to 4 feet in the next century, coastal storms will become more damaging.  “One of the things we worry about most is the oceans warming up, because the oceans have a very high specific heat and that means that they can absorb a lot of energy without raising the temperature much,” says Becerra.

This means that we worry as oceans temperature rises because it suggests a tremendous amount of energy is being absorbed. Overall, because of the increased sea surface temperatures, hurricane and tropical storm frequency has increased, an indirect result of climate change.

Whether we like it or not, climate change is happening and it is happening fast.

For proof, we need not look further than Hurricane Michael and Florence, who both started as a tropical storm and strengthened into Category 4 hurricanes.

We need to act on this issue as a society before our emission projection gets out of control and those seemingly far away coastal storms start leading to more inland consequences.