Home » Heat and Floods Are Increasingly Hitting Coastlines with a One-Two Punch

Heat and Floods Are Increasingly Hitting Coastlines with a One-Two Punch

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Heat and Floods Are Increasingly Hitting Coastlines with a One-Two Punch

Compound occasions through which coastal flooding and warmth waves happen on the similar time are taking place extra typically because the planet warms

Two people in the back of a hi water truck combing through floodwaters.

A excessive water truck with volunteers assist evacuate individuals from properties after neighborhoods flooded in LaPlace, Louisiana on August 30, 2021 within the aftermath of Hurricane Ida.

Patrick T. Fallon/AFP through Getty Images

CLIMATEWIRE | Heat waves and coastal floods are intensifying all over the world as world temperatures rise and sea ranges swell. These disasters are harmful after they happen on their very own — and even worse after they occur collectively.

Now scientists are warning that these “compound” occasions are rising extra widespread worldwide.

A new examine printed within the journal Communications Earth & Environment means that warmth waves and coastal floods steadily coincide alongside shorelines everywhere in the globe. They have already grown extra widespread over the previous few a long time — they usually’re more likely to maintain growing as world temperatures rise.

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That’s alarming information for coastal communities threatened by compound occasions.

Extreme warmth can drive individuals to hunt respite outdoor, growing their danger of harm or demise throughout floods. And floods can knock out energy, limiting entry to air con throughout warmth waves.

Hurricane Ida, which ravaged the U.S. Gulf Coast in August 2021, is a major instance. Heavy rainfall and harmful storm surge triggered devastating floods in southeast Louisiana, inundating native communities and inflicting widespread electrical energy outages. A sweltering warmth wave set in instantly afterward, killing not less than 10 individuals.

The authors of the brand new examine — Mo Zhou and Shuo Wang from Hong Kong Polytechnic University — analyzed historic climate knowledge to map out the locations the place warmth waves and excessive sea ranges have occurred collectively over the previous few a long time. They discovered that almost 88 p.c of all of the world’s coastlines had skilled such an occasion sooner or later since 1979.

Tropical coastlines have been the toughest hit. They account for lower than half the world’s shorelines, however skilled greater than 70 p.c of the compound occasions the examine recognized.

These occasions have grown extra widespread previously couple of a long time, the examine provides. Nearly 40 p.c of the world’s coastlines have skilled a major enhance together warmth and excessive sea stage occasions since 1998.

And it’s most likely going to worsen. The researchers used laptop fashions to analyze how these occasions may evolve as world temperatures proceed to climb. Under a comparatively excessive future local weather state of affairs, world coastlines are anticipated to expertise about 38 days of compound occasions yearly between 2025 and 2049. That’s a median enhance of 31 days in contrast with the typical between 1989 and 2013.

It’s unclear what bodily mechanisms are driving the rise. But the warming ambiance seems to be taking part in some function.

The researchers discovered that hotter warmth waves usually tend to happen concurrently with excessive coastal sea stage occasions. Heat waves are already rising extra extreme everywhere in the world. The researchers additionally discovered that compound occasions tended to happen throughout particular atmospheric circumstances, corresponding to larger temperatures and swirling low-pressure methods, which regularly flip into coastal storms.

Further analysis is required to raised perceive precisely how these circumstances work together with the warming local weather, the researchers be aware.

Tropical areas specifically may have to think about new methods to adapt to those mixed occasions, the researchers recommend. These are the coastlines most strongly affected — they usually’re additionally dwelling to many growing nations, which can have much less entry to air con and fewer sources to deal with each excessive warmth and damaging floods.

Reprinted from E&E News with permission from POLITICO, LLC. Copyright 2024. E&E News supplies important information for power and atmosphere professionals.

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