Hurricane Harvey, Weather and Climate Change: Surferbird News-links Special Edition

Human characteristics: courage, by Firkin,

Human characteristics: courage, by Firkin,

Hurricane Harvey, weather and climate change; insights from NASA; viewing Harvey from space; toxic fumes from refinery shutdowns; funding storm research and federal infrastructure projects; helping hurricane victims, an earworm from Galveston and more: some of the stories in today's special edition of Surferbird News-links.


A look at Harvey from space, (

Watch incredible footage of Hurricane Harvey from the International Space Station and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's (NOAA) new satellite.

climate change and hurricanes

the relationship between hurricane harvey and climate change, (

Increased evaporation and hotter ocean temperatures—both related to climate change—contributed to Hurricane Harvey's extreme precipitation levels. Normally, as hurricanes expand, their powerful winds pull colder waters from below to the ocean's surface. By the time a storm reaches shore, these cooler waters help diminish its strength. But that's not what happened with Harvey; even the deeper waters were much warmer than usual and supplied the hurricane with additional moisture as it veered toward land.

How climate change made hurricane harvey more severe, (

In addition to warmer ocean temperatures in the Gulf of Mexico, sea level rise caused the storm surge to be "half a foot higher than it would have been just decades ago," according to Michael E. Mann, director at Penn State Earth System Science Center. This is partly due to human activities that disrupt the ocean floor, such as oil drilling, which cause coastal areas to sink. But another factor to consider is that prevailing winds were too weak to move the storm out of the area, possibly because the jet stream has become wobbly—a result of human-caused climate change that's been demonstrated in climate models.

what nasa says about climate change and natural disasters, (

This is an excellent summary of how increased global temperatures might affect future storms and other natural disasters.  Also, the link above explains in greater detail the relationship between more intense, but less frequent, storms and the jet stream.

Will harvey change people's views about climate change?, (

Maybe, or maybe not. But it's been noted that after a natural disaster, communities often adopt greener policies. But regardless of what people choose to believe, NOAA expects more events like Hurricane Harvey this century.  

money, storms and sea-level rise

sea-level rise won't be factored in to new federal infrastructure projects, (

Federal agencies no longer have to consider seal-level rise for new building permits. An executive order signed by our current administration dismantled flood-risk protections created by the Obama administration. This includes permits for highways, military bases, emergency response buildings and hospitals. This could cost taxpayers even more in the long-run. 

cuts to research programs that help scientists predict and monitor storms, (

Will the current administration propose cuts to NOAA and the National Weather Service? If this happens, both agencies will have trouble maintaining weather prediction programs. 

Is our national flood insurance program running short on funds?, (

I admit that until I read this article, I didn't know much about the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). The take home message, though, is that FEMA is in trouble because of so many recent catastrophic flooding events.  Learn more about FEMA, along with proposed solutions to its financial woes, in this informative piece at Quartz. 

News on hurricane harvey

Fumes from Houston area refineries and chemical plants due to emergency shutdowns, (

Because of flood waters, people near industrial areas are stuck, and they're breathing some nasty chemicals. When refineries and chemical plants shutdown due to natural disasters, they release a lot of pollutants in the process. This is especially problematic for those with asthma and other respiratory conditions.  

storm Victims turn to Twitter for help, (

Is using social media to solicit emergency aide a good idea? After Hurricane Harvey hit, some officials discouraged this practice while others joined in. It's important to note that many victims were stuck and couldn't reach authorities by phone. Regardless of your views, however, I suspect people will continue to seek help through social media. 

Harvey brings new colors to the national weather service's precipitation graphics, (

Take a look at the before and after graphics from the National Weather Service. They had to add new colors to their graphics to adequately describe rainfall amounts unleashed from Harvey's fury!

lend a hand

how to help hurricane harvey victims, (

Would you like to help the people affected by Hurricane Harvey? This article in Quartz has links to charitable organizations along with information on how to register as a volunteer.


If you're unfamiliar with U.S. geography, Galveston ( is a resort city off the coast of Texas. I've never been there, but Glen Campbell ( popularized the song,"Galveston," in the late 60s. It's interesting to note that Jimmy Webb, who wrote "Galveston," considered it an anti-war song.

A catastrophic hurricane hit Galveston in 1900, which you can read about here ( Also, I thoroughly enjoyed this interview with Alice Cooper in Rolling Stone regarding his friendship with Campbell. You wouldn't normally put the two together, yet, they remained friends until Campbell's death in August of this year.

Our hearts are with you—Galveston, Houston and all the other areas hit by Hurricane Harvey.