When it comes to the causes of Hurricane Harvey, climate change is not a smoking gun.
However, there are a few spent cartridge cases marked global warming in the immediate vicinity.
Hurricanes are complex, naturally occurring beasts – extremely difficult to predict, with or without the backdrop of rising global temperatures.
The scientific reality of attributing a role to climate change in worsening the impact of hurricanes is also hard to tease out simply because these are fairly rare events and there is not a huge amount of historical data.
But there are some things that we can say with a good deal of certainty.
There’s a well-established physical law, the Clausius-Clapeyron equation, that says that a hotter atmosphere holds more moisture.
For every extra degree Celsius in warming, the atmosphere can hold 7% more water. This tends to make rainfall events even more extreme when they occur.
Another element that we can mention with some confidence is the temperature of the seas.
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