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Floods, Drought and Climate Change

Updated on December 14, 2014

Floods Follow Cyclones, Hurricanes and Climate Change

Hurricane Sandy is the largest ever cyclone and the devastation it caused will be felt for years to come, Its cost might be weighed up in dollars but the lives it has ruined, changed, or taken away will never be fully assessed as people stuggle to come to terms with what has happened. The image is from Wikipedia open source and shows the storm at near peak intensity on October 25th, 2012.

Its heartbreaking to see and awesome to watch when giant floods inundate land from cities to country properties and everything in its path is wiped out, devastated, destroyed, killed or at best water damaged. That's what I saw on television `in a report on Hurricane Floyd which devastated the Bahamas and many other islands before arriving on the North Carolina Coast but it was inland in that state that it had the most devastating impact.

During Hurricane Floyd the Tar River flooded while every river system in the area received a 500 year flood.levels or greater. It is hard to comprehend the damage and harder still to have watched cattle die painfully over several days as they struggled against the cold while standing in more than a meter of water for 5 days or more without food or milking. The calves died first and on one property several hundreds of cattle perished with only one survivor. The owner of the property went everyday to film their passing.

Wiki describes the devastation thus "With a death toll of 70, Hurricane Floyd was the deadliest United States hurricane since Hurricane Agnes in 1972. The storm also was one of the costliest in the nation's history, amounting to $4.5 billion (1999 USD; $5.3 billion in 2006 U.S. dollars). Most of the deaths and damage were from inland, freshwater flooding in eastern North Carolina." Of course that was before Katrina. It was also before Sandy that now has a death toll in excess of 100 and at least a $20-$40 billion price tag,

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Hurricane Floyd from Space
Hurricane Floyd from Space

They Occur Just About Everywhere

More frquent, more devastating, more powerful

Whatever you call them, whether hurricanes or cyclones, they pack a punch that is difficult to understand and hard to overcome. It seems that the term 'hurricane' applies to West Indian cyclonic storms of extreme violence and the term "cyclone" is used to describe the same type of windstorm elsewhere.

In effect these type of systems represent one the strongest forces of nature and they are controlled by sea temperature. As that is on the increase we may expect not only more of these giant winds but ever more devastating ones than before. This is what global warming leads to and nothing much appears to be on the agenda to curb it. With the recent climate change talks in Copenhagen becoming almost a non event and with only empty promises from some governments to curb CO2 emissions it would seem on the surface that money, power and jobs are more important to those in control.

Of course there is another side to the debate as many would have it that climate change is a natural phenomena and has nothing to do with humans. But there is a case to prove that this kind of thinking is wrong. With that in mind can we afford to be complacent and to stand back and do nothing? How do we shake up the mix enough to allow the possibility that we are at fault and each one of us can do something?

We think of those who can invent some extraordinary things and who have made it possible to go to the moon and overcome most adversaries and diseases and yet fail to figure that the world is stressed beyond possible recovery. Overpopulation will only increase global warming as more forests are removed, more resources dry up, more pollution takes place and greed and neglect take their toll.

A scientific program on the ABC Television in Australia (Catalyst - May 7th, 2010) featured a report on overfishing and the long term effect which could see no fish by 2050. It showed thousands of fish caught in nets by trawlers who are armed with the latest equipment to spot schools of fish and to catch the lot. On the other hand many that are taken are wasted as they are the wrong type or have been caught by mistake. It revealed that 27% of fish species have collapsed with many of them gone for good.

US States Threatened by Floyd - Anticipating Floyds arrival

Have you Ever Experienced a Cyclone or Hurricane

Do you think we should be changing our ways, even our lifestyles to stop climate change?

Property damage from Floyd
Property damage from Floyd

What Causes Hurricanes and Cyclones

Winds of devastating force.

"Hurricanes start when warm, moist air from the ocean surface begins to rise rapidly, where it encounters cooler air that causes the warm water vapor to condense and to form storm clouds and drops of rain. The condensation also releases latent heat, which warms the cool air above, causing it to rise and make way for more warm humid air from the ocean below.

As this cycle continues, more warm moist air is drawn into the developing storm and more heat is transferred from the surface of the ocean to the atmosphere. This continuing heat exchange creates a wind pattern that spirals around a relatively calm center, or eye, like water swirling down a drain. " (cited Environmental Issues)

The warmer the oceans the more likely these events. Right now the oceans are warming to an incredible degree and with ice melting from the polar caps there are great changes happening to the under currents which also affect weather patterns. Great chunks of ice are breaking away from Antarctica where the melt is increasing dramatically. Already animal species, such as penguins, are suffering the effects along with birds, and ocean dwellers like fish, whales and plankton.

But with temperature change other things are also taking place. Heavier salt water usually sinks to the bottom because it is colder and denser. Right now the process by which this occurs is altering allowing the salt to stay closer to the surface. The sinking of the colder less buoyant water drives a current called the overturning circulation. "That circulation is really important for climate, because it determines how much heat and carbon the ocean can store and also transport from one place to another." (cited Dr. Steve Rintoul - Catalyst May 1st 2010) This worthy scientist tells us that as the salty water gets fresher from the ice melt it is less inclined to sink to the bottom and the whole system is under stress.

Recent reports shows a similar thing is happening in the Arctic where ice melt is also increasing at an alarming rate. Currents that take the warm water from the tropics to the colder regions of the north to bring about warmer summers and moderate winter temperatures is also under stress. That has resulted in much colder winters, heavier snowfalls and increasing floods in spring with ice melt.

These two major currents also cool tropical waters as the colder streams from the north and south polar ice regions arrive throughout the summer months and precipitation follows as the monsoon. This process also allows for cooler ocean breezes in the temperate zones. These winds bring moisture and generate rainfall. Without these breezes the land gets hotter, dryer and drought occurs. The Eastern region of Australia has just experienced a major 10 year long drought which has played havoc with agriculture and dam levels which fell in some cases to almost empty. The Capital city of Perth, on the western coast, experienced a long period of several months with no rain falling at all.

With the breaking of this drought major flooding occurred throughout Queensland and New South Wales with extreme loss of animal life as well as major crop and property damage. There seemed to be little doubt among the residents and governments that this was the result of Climate change, The Rudd government tried to take steps at a federal level to change for CO2 emissions but the opposition blocked it in the Senate. This is politics at its worst. All they want to do is throw spanners in the works to stop the government achieving anything that the people might like and so make themselves more favorable.

Tornado Boy Scout
Tornado Boy Scout

Tornadoes and Severe Thunderstorms

"The most intense of all atmospheric circulations on a local scale in this region, tornadoes are the rarest and most violent of thunderstorm phenomena. According to the Glossary of Meteorology (2000) a tornado is a violently rotating column of air suspended from large storm clouds in contact with the ground. It has a funnel shape and its vortex can range in width from a few meters to hundreds of meters. The majority of strong and violent tornadoes occur in association with supercell thunderstorms." (cited Geoscience Australia - open source information).

The diverse types of storms and the severity of them is not hard to figure. Nature is armed with many powerful weapons to try to regulate the temperature to normal conditions and storms are one of those tools. With its onset comes cooling winds, rain and electrical currents to change the atmosphere from hot and dry to instantly cold and wet.

It is not hard to notice the sudden drop in temperature which can be as much as 20*Celsius or more. One minute it is stifling hot, unbearably humid and sticky and the next almost freezing cold, windy, wet and refreshing.

The main difference between a tornado and cyclone is the effect on the oceans. It is only the former that has the power to cool the waters which spawned it. As global warming continues we can expect more of nature's tricks to try to combat man's devastation on the environment we all depend on.

Image is from this site - no copyright restrictions

Humans Are To Blame - The facts cannot be ignored

Start of a Tornado

Have You Been Near or In a Tornado?

Do you think we can change environmental stress?

Still images from Dreamstime - click here

© 2010 norma-holt

Don't Depart Just Yet - We want to know what you think?

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    • LiteraryMind profile image

      Ellen Gregory 6 years ago from Connecticut, USA

      Great lens. Thank you for linking my Hurricane Irene lens to this. I am linking this to my Hurricane Irene lens. It's important to give the reader the full spectrum of information.

    • ChrisDay LM profile image

      ChrisDay LM 6 years ago

      We are puny, alongside Nature and it's time we stopped fighting it and resign ourselves to our place in it.

    • RuthCoffee profile image

      RuthCoffee 6 years ago

      Mother nature is powerful, very powerful. I've never been in a Tornado, but I have dreamed of them many times when things in my life were turbulent and changing. My worst dreams though are of seeing my house burn to the ground. Thanks for featuring my Rain Pictures lens.

    • profile image

      anonymous 6 years ago

      You make such great lenses, I'll have to read each and everyone

    • MoonandMagic profile image

      MoonandMagic 7 years ago

      I think there is no avoiding the consequences of our last 100 years of selfish advancement and lazy wasting. We need to think of ways to slow down our emittions and consumption otherwise it'll be more than hurricane's and tornado's! Thanks for the awakening!

    • Jack2205 profile image

      Jack 7 years ago

      I have experienced a flood, several tornadoes, and the destruction that they caused. Blessed by a Squid Angel.

    • MargoPArrowsmith profile image

      MargoPArrowsmith 7 years ago

      The problem is that every time it snows people use that to not believe

    • profile image

      anonymous 7 years ago

      I love the spectacle of severe weather, but have not experienced much of it. Thunderstorms in box canyons, torrential rain, flooding in Guadalajara that reach the windows of the buses. Fortunately, no life or limb loss though.

    • Wednesday-Elf profile image

      Wednesday-Elf 7 years ago from Savannah, Georgia

      I'm not sure all severe weather can be attributed to 'climate change' caused by us 'humans' (Nature being nature), but certainly some of the problems today -- and in the future -- can be reduced or eliminated by the people on our planet becoming more aware and more proactive toward the environment. Good summary on weather & climate change. ~~Blessed~~

    • LisaAuch1 profile image

      Lisa Auch 7 years ago from Scotland

      I am fascinated by how our climate is changing, in the Arctic the ice is melting so fast, and there are new organisims being uncovered at a fast rate, which gives us more information about how our earth evolved, however, we need to know at what cost! I love reading your lenses. And it is an honour to Bless this lens

    • LisaAuch1 profile image

      Lisa Auch 7 years ago from Scotland

      I am fascinated by how our climate is changing, in the Arctic the ice is melting so fast, and there are new organisims being uncovered at a fast rate, which gives us more information about how our earth evolved, however, we need to know at what cost! I love reading your lenses. And it is an honour to Bless this lens

    • OhMe profile image

      Nancy Tate Hellams 7 years ago from Pendleton, SC

      This was sure an education for me and I learned so much about Floods, Drought and Climate Change. This lens is featured on Squidoo's Summer Sunshine Award Nominees and nominated. Good luck to you and Earth Justice.

    • GonnaFly profile image

      Jeanette 7 years ago from Australia

      As always, a well thought out lens. Beautifully presented.

    • delia-delia profile image

      Delia 7 years ago

      I have had the misfortune of experiencing a big Earthquake, Tornado, Flood and I will add a winter snow/ice storm that took our electricity for almost three weeks. I believe when man messes with nature, it is a domino effect, the cycle of life is affected no matter how you look at it...great lens 5*

    • profile image

      squidoolover76 7 years ago

      I never experiened Tornadoes but yes I have seen those on discovery channel.Really scary.

      Very nice lens 5*

    • profile image

      myraggededge 7 years ago

      Hmm... it has yet to be proved that there is a link between tornadoes/severe weather events and climate change. There is also evidence that there are fewer severe weather events currently than in previous decades. If I recall a recent article correctly it was worse in the 40s and 50s. I've also heard that 700 scientists are about to present a paper in "Nature" stating that AGW is not an issue.

    • AuthorNormaBudden profile image

      AuthorNormaBudden 7 years ago

      This is a marvelous lens filled with some fascinating facts.

    • Shibamom LM profile image

      Shibamom LM 7 years ago

      I have been a in hurricane a few times and hope never to experience another. Very well done lens. 5*

    • WildFacesGallery profile image

      Mona 7 years ago from Iowa

      We had a tornado touch down about 1/2 mile form our gallery. It then traveled 7 miles to totally wipe out a neighboring small town. Fortunately no one was killed but the destruction was terrible. People were depressed for months.

    • burgessvillian profile image

      burgessvillian 7 years ago

      I love a good storm as long as nobody gets hurt.