NOAA Chief: 2011 Weather Was ‘Harbinger of Things to Come’: Scientific American
The United States was battered this year by at least 12 natural disasters that each caused at least $1 billion in damages, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration said yesterday.
The agency said it was adding a June tornado outbreak in the Midwest and Southeast and record-setting wildfires in Texas, Arizona and New Mexico to a list that also includes flooding along the Missouri and Mississippi rivers, drought in the Southern Plains and southwestern United States, five previous tornado outbreaks in Southern and central states, and a blizzard.
That count could still rise, because NOAA is still tallying damages from Tropical Storm Lee and a late October snowstorm in the Northeast.
But this year was not an aberration, NOAA Administrator Jane Lubchenco said during a speech here yesterday.
The seemingly endless onslaught of floods, droughts, wildfires, windstorms, blizzards and tornadoes that have marked 2011 fit within an ongoing increase in the number of natural disasters recorded in the United States, she said, citing statistics maintained by reinsurer Munich Re.
And at least some of that increase appears to be driven by climate change, Lubchenco said, citing a recent report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.
“What we are seeing this year is not just an anomalous year, but a harbinger of things to come for at least a subset of those extreme events that we are tallying,” the NOAA chief told attendees of the American Geophysical Union’s fall meeting.