Climate Action

What Does Climate Change Have to do with Texas Floods?

Those that do not believe in climate change have little to hold onto anymore. Recent events are demonstrating that global warming is not only a reality, but also is already leading to much more frequent and intense catastrophic events. Last weekend, Texas and Oklahoma faced a hammering downpour that caused 22 fatalities in Texas and 7 in Oklahoma. It was also the highest flood ever recorded in Wimberley Valley, TX.

 

Torrential spring storms are common in these states, however the duration of storms and interval between them is unusual. Texas is recently recovering from one of the severest droughts in history and now, with theses heavy rains, the soil lacks the capacity to absorb such a high volume of water– causing the phenomenon that is being reported on news channels across the country. Although experts would not consider these events a result of climate change, mainly because the evaluation would require about a year to be more conclusive, the three main factors associated with them are related to ocean and atmospheric temperatures. Both of them are affected by global warming: warmer oceans lead to more evaporation and warmer atmosphere leads to higher capacity to hold more moisture, therefore more volume of water precipitating during storms.

 

Even though Texas is used to heavy rains during spring months, the infrastructure to mitigate storms of such magnitude do not exist. So what would be the best way to be prepared for those extreme events that are becoming more frequent and intense as global warming augments?

 

Some countries particularly in Europe have opted to build flood barriers to prepare for extreme weather. But these prevention methods will only be useful if world leaders make strong climate change policies. Though cannot manipulate climate, but we can reduce the emission of greenhouse gases that increase atmosphere and ocean temperatures. And with instances like Texas flood, the need to act against global warming is more urgent than ever.

 

Maria Izabel Martinez da Matta, Intern