Climate Change: Worst Cyclone in History Follows Queensland Floods

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After the record-breaking flooding in Australia, now what has been described as the worst cyclone in its history is bearing down on Queensland at 33kmh (20 mph).

Waves of over 14 meters (46 feet) and wind gusts above 260km/h (162 mph) are predicted from cyclone Yasi. Forecasters are saying that “phenomenal seas” are predicted – the actual technical term. It indicates that the specific wave heights predicted are the highest on the chart.

Like the recent flooding that scientists attribute to the warmer seas due to climate change, this more intense cyclone is also commensurate with the long-predicted effects of warmer temperatures due to climate change.

The warmer seas intensify the La Nina and El Nino cycles in the region, making them more frequent and more intense. El Nino brings Australia droughts, which have been more intense. La Nina blows winds that pile up warm water in the western Pacific and around Australia.

The ocean around Australia is now warmer than at any time in history.

This La Nina has been one of the strongest La Nina patterns ever recorded, according to the Australian government. The flooding of Queensland on Australia’s Pacific coast has been the worst in history. Warmer ocean temperatures increase the frequency and intensity of cyclones.

“The waters off Australia are the warmest ever measured and those waters provide moisture to the atmosphere for the Queensland and northern Australia monsoon,” Matthew England of the Climate Change Research Center at the University of New South Wales told Reuters earlier this month.

Around Northern Australia and Indonesia, ocean temperatures are 0.54 °C  (1°F) higher than the last 50 years, on average, and 2010 was the highest in the last ten years, which was itself the warmest decade on record for sea surface temperatures.

Scientists collect and tabulate temperature data worldwide to find average global temperatures of both water and air. The average temperatures have increased, which is commensurate with the predicted effects of adding more greenhouse gases to the air. The global average is found by counting temperatures in some regions that are warmer than, and others that are cooler than, the global average.

Making the changes needed to help prevent further, and worse climate change is not hard, but it takes overcoming the habit of procrastination. You can switch to many clean sources of energy, news of which we cover at Cleantechnica.

Two of the biggest effects you can have on reducing your own contribution to climate change, if you drive,  are to buy an electric car instead of a gas car the next time you buy one, and to get a solar estimate for your home electricity. An estimate is free and could yield surprising news. Few people know that in many states, solar is now cheaper than your utility electricity.

For a larger effect, vote for the party in your country that espouses the policies that encourage the switch to clean energy with incentives that counter the natural tendency to procrastinate on making a change.

Image: google earth

Susan Kraemer@Twitter

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