Puerto Rico’s climate change Hurricane Maria

This 29 September 2017 video is called Hurricane MARIA Devastates Humacao, Puerto Rico.

From the American Geophysical Union:

Climate change to blame for Hurricane Maria‘s extreme rainfall

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.

“What we found was that Maria’s magnitude of peak precipitation is much more likely in the climate of 2017 when it happened versus the beginning of the record in 1950,” said David Keellings, a geographer at the University of Alabama in Tuscaloosa and lead author of the new study in AGU’s journal Geophysical Research Letters.

Previous studies have attributed Hurricane Harvey‘s record rainfall to climate change, but no one had yet looked in depth at rainfall from Maria, which struck Puerto Rico less than a month after Harvey devastated Houston and the Gulf Coast. Extreme rainfall during both storms caused unprecedented flooding that placed them among the top three costliest hurricanes on record (the other being Hurricane Katrina in 2005).

The new study adds to the growing body of evidence that human-caused warming is making extreme weather events like these more common, according to the authors.

“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.

Constructing a history of rain

José Javier Hernández Ayala, a climate researcher at Sonoma State University in California and co-author of the new study, is originally from Puerto Rico and his family was directly impacted by Hurricane Maria. After the storm, Hernández Ayala decided to team up with Keellings to see how unusual Maria was compared to previous storms that have struck the island.

The researchers analyzed rainfall from the 129 hurricanes that have struck Puerto Rico since 1956, the earliest year with records they could rely on. They found Hurricane Maria produced the largest maximum daily rainfall of those 129 storms: a whopping 1,029 millimeters (41 inches) of rain. That places Maria among the top 10 wettest hurricanes to ever have hit United States territory.

“Maria is more extreme in its precipitation than anything else that the island has ever seen,” Keellings said. “I just didn’t expect that it was going to be so much more than anything else that’s happened in the last 60 years.”

Keellings and Hernández Ayala also wanted to know whether Maria’s extreme rain was a result of natural climate variability or longer-term trends like human-induced warming. To do so, they analyzed the likelihood of an event like Maria happening in the 1950s versus today.

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 all probability can’t be explained by natural climate cycles.

At the beginning of the observational record in the 1950s, a storm like Maria was likely to drop that much rain once every 300 years. But in 2017, that likelihood dropped to about once every 100 years, according to the study.

“Due to anthropogenic climate change it is now much more likely that we get these hurricanes that drop huge amounts of precipitation,” Keellings said.

The findings show human influence on hurricane precipitation has already started to become evident, according to Michael Wehner, a climate scientist at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory in Berkeley, California, who was not connected to the new study. Because so much of Maria’s damage was due to flooding from the extreme amount of rain, it is safe to say that part of those damages were exacerbated by climate change, Wehner said.

“Extreme precipitation during tropical cyclones has been increased by climate change,” he said. “Not all storms have a large amount of inland flooding, of freshwater flooding. But of those that do, the floods are increased to some extent by climate change.”

39 thoughts on “Puerto Rico’s climate change Hurricane Maria

  1. Pingback: British Conservative government represses climate change protesters | Dear Kitty. Some blog

  2. Pingback: Climate change kills British frogs | Dear Kitty. Some blog

  3. Pingback: US Democratic Biden’s inadequate global warming policy | Dear Kitty. Some blog

  4. Pingback: Trump attacks Puerto Rico again | Dear Kitty. Some blog

  5. Pingback: Brazilian far-right Bolsonaro not to New York | Dear Kitty. Some blog

  6. Pingback: Elon Musk’s broken Puerto Rico solar energy promises | Dear Kitty. Some blog

  7. Pingback: Climate change, science and activism | Dear Kitty. Some blog

  8. Pingback: European elections, establishment parties defeated | Dear Kitty. Some blog

  9. Pingback: Young people keep fighting against climate change | Dear Kitty. Some blog

  10. Pingback: Global warming threatens health, doctors say | Dear Kitty. Some blog

  11. Pingback: US Democratic establishment bans climate change debate | Dear Kitty. Some blog

  12. Pingback: Climate change increases risk of wars | Dear Kitty. Some blog

  13. Pingback: Puerto Rico, hurricane Maria disaster and colonialism | Dear Kitty. Some blog

  14. Pingback: Stop US corporate Democrat climate debate ban | Dear Kitty. Some blog

  15. Pingback: After Trump, Macron militarises space | Dear Kitty. Some blog

  16. Pingback: Puerto Rico anti-government protests increasing | Dear Kitty. Some blog

  17. Pingback: Puerto Ricans keep fighting corrupt governor | Dear Kitty. Some blog

  18. Pingback: Puerto Rico, biggest demonstration ever | Dear Kitty. Some blog

  19. Pingback: Puerto Rican people against corrupt government | Dear Kitty. Some blog

  20. Pingback: Corrupt Puerto Rican governor gone | Dear Kitty. Some blog

  21. Pingback: Puerto Rican mass rebellion | Dear Kitty. Some blog

  22. Pingback: Puerto Rico, new governor, new mass protests | Dear Kitty. Some blog

  23. Pingback: Worldwide pro-climate strikes, 20-27 September | Dear Kitty. Some blog

  24. Pingback: New Puerto Rican governor and poisoned groundwater | Dear Kitty. Some blog

  25. Pingback: New Puerto Rican governor, Wall Street’s governor | Dear Kitty. Some blog

  26. Pingback: Another governor, more demonstrations in Puerto Rico | Dear Kitty. Some blog

  27. Pingback: Hurricane Dorian, from Puerto Rico to Florida | Dear Kitty. Some blog

  28. Pingback: Pro-climate strikes, 20-27 September, New York | Dear Kitty. Some blog

  29. Pingback: United States presidential election news update | Dear Kitty. Some blog

  30. Pingback: Worldwide climate strike protesters interviewed | Dear Kitty. Some blog

  31. Pingback: Climate change damages African pastoralists | Dear Kitty. Some blog

  32. Pingback: Hurricane Maria and Puerto Rican coffee farms | Dear Kitty. Some blog

  33. Pingback: Trump attacks sick people in Puerto Rico | Dear Kitty. Some blog

  34. Pingback: Australia’s lethal climate change bushfires | Dear Kitty. Some blog

  35. Pingback: London Greenpeace action against BP polluters | Dear Kitty. Some blog

  36. Pingback: Storm Ciara, climate change disaster | Dear Kitty. Some blog

  37. Pingback: Puerto Rico insurance fraud | Dear Kitty. Some blog

  38. Pingback: Florida, USA turtles threatened by climate change | Dear Kitty. Some blog

  39. Pingback: How beavers benefit other wildlife | Dear Kitty. Some blog

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.