Thursday, October 1, 2009

Super typhoons rocking the Philippines intensified by global warming

Typhoon Parma on September 30, bearing down on the Philippines, still reeling from the worst flooding in decades from Tropical Storm Ketsana, which unloaded some 20"+ rainfall amounts on the Manila area. For more information click here for high resolution imagery at Earth Observatory.

Major news sources are all reporting on the recent natural disasters in the Northeast Pacific. Among the earthquakes and tsunamis, the area has also been subject to numerous typhoons.

The Associated Press released today that the people of nearby Manila provinces are evacuating, in the face of heavy rainfall and rising water. They are still recovering from Typhoon Ketsana, which hit the Philippines earlier this week and 386 people were killed. The new storm, called Typhoon Parma, is churning 600 miles of the coast of Manila and is expected to strike the island chain on Saturday, meteorologists say.

Typhoons are very common in the Northeast Pacific this time of year, however the destructive power and stronger than average winds of these super typhoons are interesting to weather scientists. A recent paper produced by Nagoya University in Japan affirmed the role of Global Warming in the appearance of super typhoons like Ketsana, Parma, and Morakot, which hit Taiwan in August.

A super typhoon is a category level for sea cyclones that produce winds over 120 mph. The Japanese study used computer simulations to predict that typhoons with winds as high as 180 mph, F3 out of five on the Fujita Scale, could rock the Pacific by 2074. Researcher Kazuhisa Tsuboki says in an interview with National Geographic, "The most important factor in the creation of the super typhoons is the warming of sea surface temperatures in the Pacific." Climate models in the study professed a rise of almost 4 degrees Fahrenheit in ocean temperatures. Ocean temperatures rise as a result of absorbing heat from the atmosphere. As the atmosphere gets warmer, the ocean gets warmer.

(Interesting story, but the jury is still out on global warming and hurricane intensity. True, the number of Category 4 & 5 hurricanes in the Atlantic and Gulf has DOUBLED since 1970, but climatologists are not convinced, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that climate change is responsible. Remember, most of the warming is at northern latitudes, not in the tropics. I think we'll know within 3-5 years, but for now the possible link between global warming and super typhoons is still very much up in the air).

The rest of the article is here.

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