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Hurricane Harvey rainfall ‘weighed 127bn tonnes’

Hurricane Harvey rainfall 'weighed 127bn tonnes'

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Media captionRoads became to rivers throughout Houston as Harvey hit

Scientists have weighed the water that fell on Texas all over the record-breaking Hurricane Harvey in August.

They calculate, by means of measuring how a lot the Earth used to be compressed, that the Category four typhoon dropped 127 billion tonnes, or 34 trillion gallons.

“One person asked me how many stadia is that. It’s 26,000 New Orleans Superdomes,” mentioned Adrian Borsa from the Scripps Institution of Oceanography.

His numbers had been launched as different scientists said that this 12 months’s giant hurricanes had a transparent human affect.

Harvey, Irma and Maria ripped thru the United States Gulf states and the Caribbean, resulting in fashionable flooding and wind harm.

Researchers advised the once a year assembly of the American Geophysical Union right here in New Orleans that the heavy rainfall seen in Harvey was very likely exacerbated by the extra warming related to greater greenhouse gases within the environment.

Sea floor temperatures had been specifically excessive within the Atlantic and the Gulf of Mexico this typhoon season. Warm ocean water acts as a gasoline for the storms.

Hurricane Harvey rainfall 'weighed 127bn tonnes'

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Media captionThe BBC’s James Cook discovered a scene of devastation in Rockport

Harvey devastated portions of the Texas sea coast as it stalled, concentrating its deluge in an overly slim area. It used to be one of the vital heaviest precipitation occasions in recorded typhoon historical past.

Standard rain gauges recorded upwards of one,270mm (50 inches) of precipitation in puts. But those had been level measurements and Dr Borsa tried to get a wider view by means of measuring how a lot the Earth moved according to the load of overlying water.

This used to be detected by means of a community of high-precision GPS stations. “It’s such as you sitting down on a bed – it depresses; you rise up and it rebounds. The Earth behaves very in a similar way, like a rubber block.

“So the Earth is recording the results of the quite a bit performing on its floor.”

The GPS community is dense sufficient very extensive image of task can also be discerned. “It provides us a holistic view, now not simply level measurements,” Dr Borsa advised BBC News.

What is particularly good is that the machine can see the instant trade after the typhoon as water runs off the land thru rivers, but in addition captures the a lot slower impact of water elimination thru evaporation, pushed by means of the heat of the Sun. This takes a number of weeks.


See how West Houston Airport used to be flooded


West Houston Airport after the storm


West Houston Airport before the storm


See how Buffalo Bayou and Allen Parkway underpass flooded


Aerial images show how central Houston underpasses remain flooded, 30 August


Satellite images shows central Houston

“One of the big deficiencies in our models is that evapotranspiration – that’s the Sun and plants doing their things – is not currently directly observed, and it’s half of the total water budget. I think GPS is going to be able to provide very useful information about this.”

At the similar AGU collecting, the American Meteorological Association printed that its annual file on excessive climate occasions had recognized 3 that might “not have been possible” with out the affect of human-induced local weather trade.

These had been: the record-breaking international temperatures in 2016; the 2016 warmth wave throughout Asia and the excessive ocean temperatures measured off the coast of Alaska.

These had been occasions that took place as a result of “we have created a new climate,” mentioned National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration (Noaa) local weather scientist Stephanie Herring.

The file additionally concluded that different warmth waves all over the world had been made extra intense by means of local weather trade and that Arctic warming used to be “most likely” now not conceivable with out it.

The coral bleaching tournament within the Great Barrier Reef and different marine ecosystems within the Pacific Ocean had been additionally amplified by means of “human-caused warming of the ocean”.

The analysis is based mostly on evaluating fashions, or simulations, of our local weather. “We run a model that shows what the world looks like today and we can validate those models against what is actually happening,” defined Dr Herring.

“Then we evaluate it to a fashion of an ‘alternative world’ by which – theoretically – local weather trade by no means took place; as though people didn’t emit greenhouse gases because the commercial revolution.

“So we will have a look at a global with local weather trade and a global with out it.”

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