News / Science & Technology

    'Storm of Century' Might Hit Every Decade

    Intense storm risk more frequent in warmer world

    Multimedia

    Audio
    Rosanne Skirble

    Path of Hurricane Irene in August 2011. At peak intensity, Irene reached Category 3 hurricane status with sustained winds of 125 mph. (Courtesy NOAA)

    With climate change, powerful storms could make landfall far more frequently, causing powerful, devastating storm surges every three to 20 years, researchers from MIT and Princeton University have found.  



    Their study proposes a way to more accurately assess the risks posed by more frequent and intense hurricanes and sea rise, especially in coastal communities most threatened by the earth’s changing climate.  

    New York City was the focus of the study. Scientists coupled computer climate models with hurricane models and generated some 45,000 virtual storms within a 200-kilometer radius of New York.

    Princeton University atmospheric scientist and study co-author Michael Oppenheimer says, while there was some variability among the models, the common feature was a greater frequency of intense storms. That confirmed findings from previous studies.

    Water from the Passaic River covers the intersection of Main Street and Memorial Drive in Paterson, N.J., where the river overflowed its banks following Hurricane Irene in August 2011.
    Water from the Passaic River covers the intersection of Main Street and Memorial Drive in Paterson, N.J., where the river overflowed its banks following Hurricane Irene in August 2011.

    “What we found was that indeed, a surge level, that is a level of penetration of flood water inland during a storm, that would previously have been reached perhaps every 100 years, is now going to be reached maybe once a decade, which is quite a big change in the risk and something that coastal managers really have to start planning for.”

    About half the world’s population lives within 200 kilometers of a coastline, and that number is rising as more people move to cities in low-lying areas, according to the Population Reference Bureau.  

    Oppenheimer believes urban planners must be able to evaluate the risks climate change will pose to life and property.

    “What is the probability that something of a certain level of impact will happen?" he says. "And how do we prevent that? Do we raise the sea walls around the city? Do we have better evacuation plans? Do we ultimately plan for some sort of storm surge barrier?”

    According to Oppenheimer, as the world changes, so must our response to it.

    “We need to anticipate that world," he says. "We don’t want to just sit there and take the punch. We want to be ready for it when it comes.”

    While the study analysis is based on New York, Oppenheimer says the technique the team used could be applied anywhere.  

    “We’re looking at this as one modest step in a direction that humanity is going to have to move over time, in getting smarter about dealing with the world that one way or another is going to get warmer, with more threats, while the world also hopefully gets its act together to cut emissions to start reducing the risk eventually.”

    You May Like

    New EU Asylum Rules Could Boost Rightists

    New regulations will seek to correct EU failures in dealing with migrant crisis, most notably inability to get member states to absorb a total of 160,000 refugees

    More Political Turmoil Likely in Iraq as Iran Waits in the Wings

    Analysts warn that Tehran, even though it may not be engineering the Sadrist protests in Baghdad, is seeking to leverage its influence on its neighbor

    Forced Anal Testing Case to Appear Before Kenya Court

    Men challenge use of anal examinations to ‘prove homosexuality’; practice accomplishes nothing except to humiliate those subjected to them, according to Human Rights Watch

    This forum has been closed.
    Comments
         
    There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Tensions Rising Ahead of South China Sea Rulingi
    X
    May 03, 2016 5:16 PM
    As the Philippines awaits an international arbitration ruling on a challenge to China's claims to nearly all of the South China Sea, it is already becoming clear that regardless of which way the decision goes, the dispute is intensifying. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
    Video

    Video Tensions Rising Ahead of South China Sea Ruling

    As the Philippines awaits an international arbitration ruling on a challenge to China's claims to nearly all of the South China Sea, it is already becoming clear that regardless of which way the decision goes, the dispute is intensifying. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
    Video

    Video Painting Captures President Lincoln Assassination Aftermath

    A newly restored painting captures the moments following President Abraham Lincoln’s assassination in 1865. It was recently unveiled at Ford’s Theatre in Washington, where America’s 16th president was shot. It is the only known painting by an eyewitness that captures the horror of that fateful night. VOA’s Julie Taboh tells us more about the painting and what it took to restore it to its original condition.
    Video

    Video Elephant Summit Results in $5M in Pledges, Presidential Support

    Attended and supported by three African presidents, a three-day anti-poaching summit has concluded in Kenya, resulting in $5 million in pledges and a united message to the world that elephants are worth more alive than dead. The summit culminated at the Nairobi National Park with the largest ivory burn in history. VOA’s Jill Craig attended the summit and has this report about the outcomes.
    Video

    Video Displaced By War, Syrian Artist Finds Inspiration Abroad

    Saudi-born Syrian painter Mohammad Zaza is among the millions who fled their home for an uncertain future after Syria's civil war broke out. Since fleeing Syria, Zaza has lived in Lebanon, Egypt, Jordan and now Turkey where his latest exhibition, “Earth is Blue like an Orange,” opened in Istanbul. He spoke with VOA about how being displaced by the Syrian civil war has affected the country's artists.
    Video

    Video Ethiopia’s Drought Takes Toll on Children

    Ethiopia is dealing with its worst drought in decades, thanks to El Nino weather patterns. An estimated 10 million people urgently need food aid. Six million of them are children, whose development may be compromised without sufficient help, Marthe van der Wolf reports for VOA from the Metahara district.
    Video

    Video Little Havana - a Slice of Cuban Culture in Florida

    Hispanic culture permeates everything in Miami’s Little Havana area: elderly men playing dominoes as they discuss politics, cigar rollers deep at work, or Cuban exiles talking with presidential candidates at a Cuban coffee window. With the recent rapprochement between Cuba and United States, one can only expect stronger ties between South Florida and Cuba.
    Video

    Video California Republicans Weigh Presidential Choices Amid Protests

    Republican presidential candidates have been wooing local party leaders in California, a state that could be decisive in selecting the party's nominee for U.S. president. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports delegates to the California party convention have been evaluating choices, while front-runner Donald Trump drew hundreds of raucous protesters Friday.
    Video

    Video Kurdish Football Team Helps War-Torn City Cope

    With the conflict still raging across much of Turkey’s predominantly Kurdish southeast, between the rebel PKK and the Turkish state, many Kurds are trying to escape the turmoil by focusing on the success of their football team Amedspor in Diyarbakir. The club is increasingly becoming a symbol for Kurds, not only in Diyarbakir but beyond. Dorian Jones reports from southeast Turkey.
    Video

    Video ‘The Lights of Africa’ - Through the Eyes of 54 Artists

    An exhibition bringing together the work of 54 African artists, one from each country, is touring the continent after debuting at COP21 in Paris. Called "Lumières d'Afrique," the show centers on access to electricity and, more figuratively, ideas that enlighten. Emilie Iob reports from Abidjan, the exhibition's first stop.
    Video

    Video Florida’s Weeki Wachee ‘Mermaids’ Make a Splash

    Since 1947, ‘mermaids’ have fascinated tourists at central Florida’s Weeki Wachee Springs State Park with their fluid movements and synchronized ballet. Performing underwater has its challenges, including cold temperatures and a steady current, as VOA’s Lin Yang and Joseph Mok report.
    Video

    Video Somali, African Union Forces Face Resurgent Al-Shabab

    The Islamic State terror group claimed its first attack in Somalia earlier this week, though the claim has not been verified by forces on the ground. Meanwhile, al-Shabab militants have stepped up their attacks as Somalia prepares for elections later this year. Henry Ridgwell reports there are growing frustrations among Somalia’s Western backers over the country’s slow progress in forming its own armed forces to establish security after 25 years of chaos.
    Video

    Video Nigerians Feel Bite of Buhari Economic Policy

    Despite the global drop in the price of oil, Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari has refused to allow the country's currency to devalue, leading to a shortage of foreign exchange. Chris Stein reports from Lagos businessmen and consumers are feeling the impact as the country deals with a severe fuel shortage.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora