How can climate change affect natural disasters?

With increasing global surface temperatures the possibility of more droughts and increased intensity of storms will likely occur. As more water vapor is evaporated into the atmosphere it becomes fuel for more powerful storms to develop. More heat in the atmosphere and warmer ocean surface temperatures can lead to increased wind speeds in tropical storms. Rising sea levels expose higher locations not usually subjected to the power of the sea and to the erosive forces of waves and currents.

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video thumbnail: USGS Public Lecture Series: Hurricanes and Our Changing Coasts
June 30, 2009

USGS Public Lecture Series: Hurricanes and Our Changing Coasts

In September 2008, Hurricane Ike destroyed nearly every house in the Gulf-front community of Gilchrist, just north of Galveston Texas. In addition to storm surge and battering waves, the land on which the houses were built contributed to the disaster by changing in shape and elevation. Dr. Sallenger will explain how the coast changes during extreme storms—such as

Attribution:
Image: Vegetation Drought

Vegetation Drought

The Vegetation Drought Response Index (VegDRI) incorporates satellite observations of vegetation to monitor at a finer spatial detail than other commonly used drought indicators.

Attribution: Water Resources
A gif of a before and after image slider showing flooding in Texas from Hurricane Harvey.

Before and After slider gif of Texas Flooding

A gif of a before and after image slider showing flooding in Texas from Hurricane Harvey. USGS photos from Landsat.