Typically the U.S. has about four hurricanes or tropical storms make landfall every year. In 2020 we had twelve. It was an unfathomable year in the Atlantic. In total thirty named hurricanes and tropical storms formed in 2020. All of this happened during the second hottest year on record. Is climate change influencing these extremes and if so, what can we do about it? Let’s Get Started!
Teachers: This video supports the following Next Generation Science Standards.
Middle School: MSESS2.C 2 The complex patterns of the changes and the movement of water in the atmosphere, determined by winds, landforms, and ocean temperatures and currents, are major determinants of local weather patterns.
Middle School: MSESS2.D 3 The ocean exerts a major influence on weather and climate by absorbing energy from the sun, releasing it over time, and globally redistributing it through ocean currents.
Hi, I’m Tom, let’s talk climate because seriously 2019 was one hot year.
Oh sweet sweet baby 2019 Tom. What I wish I could tell you was coming. 2020. Phew! Besides all that, which caused all this, our Climate in 2020 was also pretty bonkers. So let’s talk about it. I need a haircut!
There were a record 30 named tropical storms and hurricanes that formed in the Atlantic in 2020 with 12 making landfall in the United States.12! Normally only around 4 storms hit the US in any given year. And one reason for that. Woo! 2020 was a hot one. The second hottest year since we started keeping records back in 1880. The last time global temperatures were below the 20th century average was in the 1970s! Talk about a planetary Saturday Night Fever. Kids… that’s a movie starring John Travolta. John Travolta’s a famous actor who starred in movies like Grease. Grease was a famous movie musical...Oh nevermind, nevermind.
Land temperatures in 2020 were the hottest on record and ocean temperatures were the third hottest on record. Remember those hurricanes? Warm water is fuel for developing hurricanes. It is the process of evaporating water from the ocean, and condensing it back into liquid to fall in torrential thunderstorms that gives hurricanes their energy. And the Atlantic in 2020 was full of hurricane fuel. The end result was so many storms that we ran out of names and had to turn to the Greek Alphabet.
There was Arthur, Bertha, Cristobal, Dolly, Edouard, Fay, Gonzalo, Hanna, Ee-sah-ee-ahs Isaias, Josephine, Kyle, Laura, Marco, Nana, Omar, Paulette, Rene, Sally, Teddy, Vicky, Wilfred, Alpha, Beta, Gamma, Delta, Epsilon, Zeta, Eta, Theta and Iota.
It was an unfathomable year in the Atlantic. And that year took place against the backdrop of a warming planet thanks to human-caused climate change. It’s time we stop emitting greenhouse gases and start turning down Mother Nature’s thermostat. What can you and your friends do together to make a difference and combat climate change? You can start by reducing your food waste and making your diet less animal-based and more plant-based. Plant a garden...or a tree. Say “no thanks” to single use plastics. Ride your bike or walk instead of taking a car everywhere.
You can also work with your teachers and classmates to help develop a zero waste initiative or climate action plan for your school. While you may have heard some - OK maybe all - of these things before, scientists have studied their impact on climate change and they really can make a difference - especially if we all start doing them together at home, in our schools and in our neighborhoods.
Until next time, stay cool and stay safe. And don’t forget to check out the Ocean Today website to learn more about our ocean.