25 Who’s Minding the Planet? HEADLINE HURRICANE ZONE Learn more about Dr. Klotzbach’s research: Find all seasonal hurricane forecasts back to 1984 in the CSU archive and review his published papers at: https://tropical.colostate.edu/ Follow him on Twitter @PhilKlotzbach for hurricane statistics and commentary. Q: Assuming ocean temperatures rise slightly with global climate change, how would hurricanes be impacted? Phil: When it comes to hurricanes, the general public generally looks at the damage. Storms are likely going to be more damaging in the future for several reasons. The first has nothing to do with climate change, and that's just the increasing number of people and property in harm's way. More and more people are living along the coastline, bringing along more and more belongings. With these trends you’d expect to see more damage in future hurricanes, even if the storms didn't change at all, purely from the increase in population and wealth along the coast. Then you also have sea level rise. To the general public, a few inches doesn't sound like a whole heck of a lot…And depending on where they are along the coastline, it may not be. But in other at-risk areas, if there is a rise of six inches or a foot, that can dramatically expand how far the storm surge reaches inland. In certain areas, the coastline slopes up really, really gradually, so we’ll see further inundation than we used to. In the case of a storm like Harvey, with climate change creating a warmer atmosphere and warmer ocean, you do expect to see more rain. It's difficult to quantify exact levels, but some papers propose the rainfall totals were 10%-20% higher with Harvey due to climate change. With that said, whether the region got 50 inches or 45 inches [of rain], it wouldn't have made a huge difference, but it certainly exacerbated the problem. When it comes to the overall intensity of storms, most of the models predict that we may actually see fewer total hurricanes, but they could potentially be a bit stronger in the future. If you look at the observed data and at hurricane numbers, we don't see much of a trend in the Atlantic or globally, say, over the last 30 years where we have reasonably good data. But there are some data that argues that the strongest storms are getting a little bit stronger. But to me, my bigger concern is...even if storms don't change in intensity, we're going to see more damage from the increasing number of people in harm's way, sea level rise, as well as increased rainfall. Dr. Phil is a regular expert contributor to weather and news reports focusing on the hurricane season. It's difficult to quantify exact levels, but some papers propose the rainfall totals were 10%-20% higher with Harvey due to climate change.