New supercomputer simulations by climate scientists at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory have shown that climate change intensified the amount of rainfall in recent hurricanes such as Katrina, Irma, and Maria by 5 to 10 percent. They further found that if those hurricanes were to occur in a future world that is warmer than present, those storms would have even more rainfall and stronger winds.
The study, “Anthropogenic Influences on Major Tropical Cyclone Events,” will be published November 15 in the journal Nature. To reach their conclusions Berkeley Lab researchers Christina Patricola and Michael Wehner modeled 15 historical tropical cyclones, or hurricanes, as they are called in the Atlantic, and simulated them in various past and projected future climate scenarios. The purpose of the study was to examine how warming caused by human activities may have impacted these storms and could affect similar storms in the future.
“We’re already starting to see anthropogenic factors influencing tropical cyclone rainfall,” said Patricola, a scientist in Berkeley Lab’s Earth and Environmental Sciences Area and lead author of the study. “And our simulations strongly indicate that as time goes on we can expect to see even greater increases in rainfall.”