Over the past several days, I’ve monitored reports of Sidr, a Tropical Cyclone churning its way up the Bay of Bengal. The forecasting models are based almost entirely on satellite imagery, and earlier in the week the computer models were telling forecasters it would weaken as it headed north. It hasn’t:
THE CURRENT FORECAST CALLS FOR A LESS-PRONOUNCED WEAKENING PRIOR TO LANDFALL THAN THE PREVIOUS FORECAST DUE TO THIS ENHANCED UPPER LEVEL OUTFLOW. THE TRACK REASONING HAS NOT CHANGED SINCE THE LAST FORECAST. THE STORM IS EXPECTED TO CONTINUE TRACKING NORTHWARD UNTIL MAKING LANDFALL IN WESTERN BANGLADESH…
Word from news reports and business colleagues in Bangladesh is that the response has been a bit delayed, but is now in full swing. The problem is that they have literally millions of people to evacuate from low-lying land over inadequate infrastructure. While Bangladesh is no stranger to cyclones, I believe we are seeing the impacts of climate change — and so too do the people of Bangladesh.
A gathering in the Capital earlier this week focused on raising the profile of efforts to adapt to climate impacts. Already, says this article in Newsday, Bangladesh is dealing with loss of land in a country the size of Missouri crammed with 150 million people.
Climate change is the simplest explanation for the increased frequency and intensity of storms, and consistent with the scientific consensus found in the IPCC reports. As Bill McKibben notes, "Even using its conservative projections, the panel states unequivocally that typhoons and hurricanes will likely become more intense; that sea ice will shrink and perhaps disappear in the summertime Arctic; that snow cover will contract."
Sidr, as of the last estimate, is gusting 160kts with sustained winds of 130kts, thus at the top end of a category 4 on the Saffir-Simpson scale. Seas have gone from 30 feet to 40 feet over the past 24 hrs and the storm surge will likely go very far inland indeed.
Those least capable in dealing with these impacts, and least responsible for burning fossil fuels, are going to be impacted the most.
More in comments as I get more information.