3. What does global warming have to do with severe weather, like droughts and hurricanes?
A rise in global temperatures increases the severity and likelihood of storms, floods, wildfires, droughts and heat waves. Climate change affects the weather by intensifying the water cycle. Water evaporates into the atmosphere from both land and sea and returns to Earth’s surface in the form of rain and snow. As the temperatures are rising, the rate of evaporation from our oceans is increasing. This creates perfect conditions for strong storms and hurricanes. Over the past 20 years, tropical storm activity in the Atlantic Ocean, Caribbean, and the Gulf of Mexico has increased in intensity, frequency, and duration. Increased rates of evaporation on land can lead to more rapid drying of soils and severe droughts. The extent of regions affected by droughts has also increased as precipitation over land has marginally decreased while evaporation has increased due to warmer conditions.