Global Warming: Typhoon Shifting

Who can ever forget the tragic super typhoon Haiyan or Yolanda last November 7, 2013? The storm which has a really great effect on the Philippine economy including damage in infrastructures having PHP19, 559, 379, 136.11 total cost of damage and in agriculture having PHP20, 262, 118, 716.06 total cost of damage according to the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC). Haven’t we noticed? As the years pass by, typhoons are getting more and more tragic that it causes too much effect to the country. Typhoons approaching to the Philippines in the present time are already getting stronger compared to the past years and the question is: What causes this so-called the “Typhoon Shift?”

According to John Roach (2005) in his article for National Geographic News entitled “Is Global Warming Making Hurricanes Worse?” states that hurricanes/typhoons bring massive winds and heavy rains that flood streets and destroy not just homes but also farming fields, and even a whole region. He quoted hurricane and typhoon historian Jay Barnes of Prime Knoll Shores, California stating his explanation regarding the physics of a typhoon is that heat warms the sea bed and then quickly evaporates, the particles coming from the evaporation of water becomes cloud and then scattered rain showers and thunderstorms form; thus rotating Earth causes the winds within the storm whirl around the center of the depression which will now become the eye (size varies depending on how much heat is available) of the storm.

In addition, Roach also stated in his article that studies in the past years found no proof that typhoon strength have increased because of the rise of global temperature, but a new study already discovered that typhoons are getting stronger which then correlates with the rise in ocean surface temperature and that the strength of typhoons increased for about 50% over the last three (3) decades. Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Cambridge atmospheric science professor, Kenny Emanuel (as cited in Roach, 2005) states that for every 1°Celcius (1.8°Fahrenheit) rise in sea temperature, there is also a 5% increase in a typhoon’s strength and speed. Emanuel also added that the world already have half a degree Celcius of warming which led to 2.5.% increase in typhoon intensity.

According also to an article entitled “Hurricanes in a Warmer World,” there are three (3) main factors which influences typhoon behavior; first is the Warm Ocean Temperature— hurricanes occur when surface ocean temperatures reaches for about 79°F (26°C), second is the Low Vertical Wind Shear, and the third one is the High Humidity. It was also shown that there was really an increase in sea temperatures which is during in the year 2005, there was a 70% increase, during 2006, there was a 60% increase to the 2005 percentage, and an 18% increase over the next 80 years. The article states that the increase in the global temperature was majorly caused by human activities such as burning of fossil fuels, clearing of forests which elevated carbon dioxide for these gases act like an insulating blanket that warms the land and ocean and increase evaporation.

Let’s go back to the current Philippine typhoon situation which is really obviously increasing and lasts even more longer compared to the recent years. Here is a table showing historical and popular typhoons entering the country from the past years up to the present years. IMG_20141123_135252_188

The table shows the name of the typhoon, the date it is active (including the date when it arrived), and its strength. The greater the number of its strength, the faster it is moving and the lesser its strength the slower it is. But as we can see on the table, there are already shifting regarding with their strength starting the year 1964, the year also when the issue of Global Warming was already tackles. image The article “Typhoon Megi (2010)” typhoon Megi (Juan) hit Philippines last October 18, 2010 with the speed of 140km/h affected municipalities of Luzon which includes Abra, Bataan, Benguet, Cavite, Metro Manila, Mountain Province, Pampanga, Tarlac, and Zambales. The article “Typhoon Juan leaves trail of destruction in North Luzon” also states that after its stay in the country, there were 96 people who are dead and 4 are missing and its total cost of damage reached up to PHP82.2 Billion. image According also to the article “List of retired Philippine typhoon names” the typhoon Nesat (Pedring) hit the country last September 26, 2011 with the speed of 220 km/h. Regarding also to the article “Typhoon Pedring affects 195,000,” that there were almost 8 regions nationwide were affected which is the Region II with 16, 841 people from 21 barangays, 7 municipalities in Isabela and Nueva Vizcaya, Region III with 27, 959 people from 60 barangays, 15 towns in Aurora, Nueva Ecija, Zambales, Bulacan, Pampanga, and Bataan, Region IV-A with “some” (para. 9) 10, 205 people from Rizal, Quezon, and Cavite, Region IV-B with 9980 people from Occidental Mindoro and Romblon, Region V with “some” (para. 11) 88, 525 people from Albay, Camarines Norte, Camarines Sur, and Catanduanes, and CAR having 12, 871 people; wherein 85 died and the total cost of damage reached PHP15.6 Billion. image According to the article “Typhoon Bopha,” typhoon Pablo hit Philippines last December 3, 2012 with the speed of 280km/h wherein there are 834 people who are still missing. A situation report also on the Effects of Typhoon Pablo (NDRRMC) as of Dec. 20, 2012, 7 a.m. states that there are 711, 682 families/ 6, 243, 998 people were affected in 3064 barangays/ 312 municipalities/ 40 cities in over 34 provinces of Regions IV-B, VI, VII, VIII, IX, X, XI, XII, CARAGA, and ARMM. The report also states that the total cost of damage reached PHP24, 222, 823, 528.07. image The article “Typhoon Haiyan” states that typhoon Haiyan (Yolanda) hit the country last November 7, 2013 with the speed of 315 km/h which is then considered as the strongest typhoon in Philippine history. According also to “Philippines: Typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan) Heavily-affected areas (as of 2 Nov. 2013)” the areas affected by the typhoon.

With the table as our basis, we can really compare typhoons from the past to present days. Typhoons nowadays are already unpredictable just like what is shown on the table, typhoons gets stronger and then the next one will not be that strong compared to the recent typhoon and then the following typhoons will get stronger again. There is an explanation for that and that is what science professors (Emanuel and Barnes) on Roach’s article which sates that Global Warming or the global rise of the Earth’s atmospheric temperature causes a typhoon’s unpredictable behavior. They also said that in every rise of the sea surface temperature, there is also a relative increase on the typhoon’s strength and intensity.

Barnes (Roach, 2005) also added that if global temperatures still continue to rise, then it is possible that typhoons and hurricanes will continually get stronger as there is more heat to drive storms and on a global scale, the strength of these storms corresponds with ocean temperatures: “it goes up when temperatures goes up, down when temperatures goes down” (p. 2).

The UCS also included in their proposal the Natural Factors that can “put the brakes on” a tropical cyclone/hurricane/typhoon (para. 13) which is: moving over colder ocean water, strong winds to mix up with the colder ocean water, high altitude winds which is capable of destroying the typhoon’s eye or vortex, and the dry air seething into the typhoon’s core.

In order not to bring back the catastrophe brought by Yolanda, let us make time for realization and reflect with what is already happening to our Earth right now and together, let us help cool down Global Warming.



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