NEW ORLEANS, La. (CBS Houston) — New research indicates that Earth could see as much as 10 times the amount of hurricane storm surges in the future – surges on par with the one experienced after Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans – if global warming persists.
In fact, the study, performed at the Niels Bohr Institute at the University of Copenhagen, indicates that an upward shift as slight as 0.4 degrees Celsius could set such weather patterns in motion, with bigger temperature increases leading to bigger problems, according to the university’s press release.
“If the temperature rises an additional degree, the frequency will increase by 3-4 times and if the global climate becomes two degrees warmer, there will be about 10 times as many extreme storm surges,” climate scientist Aslak Grinsted, who was involved with the study, said. “This means that there will be a ‘Katrina’ magnitude storm surge every other year.”
According to the press release, there has only been a storm surge on par with Katrina’s wrath every 20 years since 1923.
Though multiple methods of hurricane prediction are presently used around the globe, researchers in this study took elements from all of them to create a new model for forecasting the devastating storms.
“Instead of choosing between the two methods, I have chosen to use temperatures from all around the world and combine them into a single model,” Grinsted said, noting that the models were then used to predict surges up to 100 years in the future.
In addition to anticipating an increase in frequency, Grinsted and his fellow scientists also reportedly expect an increase in severity with the climbing of global temperatures, thanks in part to the effects of rising temperatures on the level of the sea.
He added, “With the global warming we have had during the 20th century, we have already crossed the threshold where more than half of all ‘Katrinas’ are due to global warming.”
The study’s findings were reportedly published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Science.