Last updated on December 27, 2020
One of the weapons of a warming climate is changing rainfall patterns. Atmospheric changes and changes in the Jet Stream are causing more hurricanes to stall. These phenomena were seen with Hurricanes Wilma in Cozumel, Harvey in Houston, and Dorian in the Bahamas dropped feet of rain. It is the warming ocean that is making tropical systems stall and drop torrential amounts of rainfall.
The water vapor that feeds precipitation comes from the additional heating of the oceans. Sixty percent of the rain and snow that falls over land comes from moisture originating from the oceans.
Tropical storm Eta caused flooding in South Florida and North Carolina; I know this as Eta flooded a part of my house.
ETA was preceded by heavy rainfall that for weeks saturated the sandy soil of S. Fl. with 12 inches of rain, and heavily populated Broward County could not escape massive flooding when ETA arrived with an additional twelve inches rain.
Rainfall has become more intense and more frequent, leading to flash flooding in urban areas.
This heavy rainfall has been tied to a warming climate, and rainwater being dumped in the ocean before and during landfall is connected to climate change. As a result, the decreasing salinity in the oceans has caused deadly lesions on coastal dolphins' skin. Bottlenose dolphins can’t survive in freshwater, and it takes time for rainfall to disperse through the ocean column.
Scientists at The Marine Mammal Center in Sausalito, CA — the largest marine mammal hospital in the world — and international colleagues have identified a novel skin disease in dolphins that is linked to climate change. The study is a groundbreaking discovery, as it is the first time since the disease first appeared in 2005 that scientists have been able to link a cause to the condition that affects coastal dolphin communities worldwide. Due to the decreased water salinity brought upon by climate change, the dolphins develop patchy and raised skin lesions across their bodies — sometimes covering upwards of 70 percent of their skin.
The international study, which can be found here, was co-authored by three internationally respected scientists, from California and Australia:
This study comes on the heels of significant outbreaks in Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, Florida and Texas and Australia in recent years. In all of these locations, a sudden and drastic decrease in salinity in the waters was the common factor. Coastal dolphins are accustomed to seasonal changes in salinity levels in their marine habitat, but they do not live in freshwater. The increasing severity and frequency of storm events like hurricanes and cyclones, particularly if they are preceded by drought conditions, are dumping unusual volumes of rain that turn coastal waters to freshwater. Freshwater conditions can persist for months, particularly after intense storms such as hurricanes Harvey and Katrina. With the increasing climate temperatures, climate scientists have predicted extreme storms like these will occur more frequently and, consequently, will result in more frequent and severe disease outbreaks in dolphins.
“This devastating skin disease has been killing dolphins since Hurricane Katrina, and we’re pleased to finally define the problem,” said Duignan. “With a record hurricane season in the Gulf of Mexico this year and more intense storm systems worldwide due to climate change, we can absolutely expect to see more of these devastating outbreaks killing dolphins.”
The study has major implications for the current outbreak in Australia, which is impacting the rare and threatened Burrunan dolphin in southeast Australia, and could provide professionals with the information needed to diagnose and treat affected animals. Currently, the long-term outlook for dolphins affected with the skin disease is poor. This is especially true for the animals suffering from prolonged exposure to freshwater.
This is incredibly sad; I certainly believed marine mammals dying in the gulf in large numbers were from the BP oil disaster off Louisiana's coast. All along, it was climate change, and it began with Katrina warn scientists.
One thing is for certain with climate change; we should prepare ourselves for the unexpected consequences of hothouse earth.
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