By MICHAEL BASTASCH
A new study is making waves in the media, claiming to finally address the question of man-made global warming’s role in Hurricane Harvey’s record-setting rainfall.
Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) professor Kerry Emanuel, a renowned hurricane expert, and his colleagues published their findings on Monday, claiming global warming increased the of risk Hurricane Harvey-level rainfall in southeastern Texas grew since the last century.
There’s one huge caveat: Emanuel didn’t actually study Hurricane Harvey itself.
Instead, Emanuel’s study is based on thousands of climate model runs to find out the odds a storm will bring the amount of rainfall Hurricane Harvey did when it made landfall in late August 2017.
Emanuel told The Daily Caller News Foundation his study didn’t analyze any of the particulars that made Hurricane Harvey so devastating. “Yes indeed … that is the case,” Emanuel told TheDCNF.
Instead, his study models the statistical likelihood of Harvey-level rainfall based on a linear projection of how storms could change under a scenario with massive amounts of global warming.
Hurricane Harvey broke Texas rainfall records when it hit, dumping large amounts of rain over the greater Houston area for about five days. Cedar Bayou, outside Houston, saw nearly 52 inches of rainfall, breaking an all-time U.S. record.
Emanuel concluded there’s “a sixfold increase” in the odds of Harvey-level rainfall pummeling Houston in any given year. Emanuel estimated an 18 percent chance of Harvey-level rainfall by the end of the 21st Century.
At one point, Emanuel noted “Harvey’s rainfall in Houston was ‘biblical’ in the sense that it likely occurred around once since the Old Testament was written.”
But special circumstances were at play for Hurricane Harvey.
Harvey’s rainfall was only able to break records because it stalled over Texas, blocked by a high pressure ridge in the west. The high pressure ridge kept Harvey over Texas longer than it otherwise would have, concentrating rainfall over a smaller area.
“There is no question that the extraordinary magnitude of Harvey’s rain was mostly because it stalled,” Emanuel told TheDCNF.