Hurricane Matthew & climate change: what you need to know​

13.10.16 By

A highly destructive and deadly hurricane has torn through Haiti, tragically claiming hundreds of lives, and is now en route to make landfall in the southeastern United States.

The massive size of this hurricane has prompted many in the public and the media to question the influence of climate change on extreme weather events such as hurricanes (also known as tropical cyclones in Australia and typhoons in east Asia).

In a nutshell: climate change is making extreme weather events like Hurricane Matthew worse.

We break down the link between the two below.

What do we know so far about Hurricane Matthew?

What’s the impact of climate change on hurricanes?

Higher seas and more damaging coastal flooding

Stronger storms and more intense rainfall

TL;DR? Here’s a handy explainer from 350.org:

What does all this mean for Australia?

Australia is highly vulnerable to increasing coastal flooding that can accompany severe storms and cyclones because our cities, towns and critical infrastructure are mainly located on the coast. Australia’s infrastructure has been built for the climate of the 20th century and is unprepared for rising sea level and more intense storms.

In Australia, 1.1 metres of sea level rise puts more than $226 billion worth of critical infrastructure, including $87 billion worth of commercial and light industrial buildings, $72 billion worth of homes and $67 billion worth of road and rail at risk from coastal flooding and erosion. Read more in our report, Counting the Costs: Climate Change and Coastal Flooding.

What can we do?

We need deep and urgent cuts in greenhouse gas emissions this decade and beyond if we are to avoid the most dangerous impacts of rising sea levels, coastal flooding and more intense storms.

Australia is one of the largest emitters to delay ratification of the United Nations Paris agreement. It’s time for Australia to ratify the Paris agreement and turn aspiration into action before the next extreme weather event hits.


 

References

ABC News: Hurricane Matthew: Millions Warned That ‘This Storm Will Kill You’

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration: Hurricane MATTHEW Public Advisory

The Weather Channel: Thousand Without Power in Florida as Hurricane Matthew Begins Its Assault

The Weather Channel: Hurricane Matthew Kills at Least 264 in Haiti: The Situation is Catastrophic.

The Washington Post: It not hype: Hurricane Matthew has been blasting through records