Wednesday, April 17, 2019

Climate change to blame for Hurricane Maria's extreme rainfall

by American Geophysical Union
April 16, 2019

Hurricane Maria dropped more rain on Puerto Rico than any storm to hit the island since 1956, a feat due mostly to the effects of human-caused climate warming, new research finds.

A new study analyzing Puerto Rico's hurricane history finds 2017's Maria had the highest average rainfall of the 129 storms to have struck the island in the past 60 years. A storm of Maria's magnitude is nearly five times more likely to form now than during the 1950s, an increase due largely to the effects of human-induced warming, according to the study's authors.


Previous studies have attributed Hurricane Harvey's record rainfall to climate change


"Some things that are changing over the long-term are associated with climate change—like the atmosphere getting warmer, sea surface temperatures increasing, and more moisture being available in the atmosphere—together they make something like Maria more likely in terms of its magnitude of precipitation," Keellings said.


They found an extreme event like Maria was 4.85 times more likely to happen in the climate of 2017 than in 1956, and that change in probability can't be explained by natural climate cycles.


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