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Climate change isn’t just making cyclones worse, it’s making the floods they cause worse too – new research

Rising populations and a warming climate mean storm surges from super cyclones are likely to affect increasing numbers of vulnerable people.

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People take refuge on a sports ground following flooding caused by Cyclone Idai in Mozambique. DFID/Flickr, CC BY-SA

Super cyclones, known as hurricanes or typhoons in different parts of the world, are among the most destructive weather events on our planet.

Although wind speeds within these storms can reach 270 km/h, the largest loss of life comes from the flooding they cause – known as a “storm surge” – when sea water is pushed onto the coast. Climate change is predicted to worsen these floods, swelling cyclone clouds with more water and driving rising sea levels that allow storm surges to be blown further inland.

In May 2020, Super Cyclone Amphan hit the India-Bangladesh border, bringing heavy rainfall and strong winds and affecting more than 13 million citizens. The cyclone also caused storm surges of 2-4 metres, flooding coastal regions in the Bay of Bengal.

While over the ocean, this category five storm – that’s a storm’s highest possible rating – became the strongest cyclone to have formed in the Bay of Bengal since 1999, reaching wind speeds of up to 260 km/h. Although it weakened to a category two storm following landfall, it remained the strongest cyclone to hit the Ganges Delta since 2007.

Amphan had severe consequences for people, agriculture, the local economy and the environment. It tragically resulted in more than 120 deaths, as well as damaging or destroying homes and power grids: leaving millions without electricity or communication in the midst of an ongoing pandemic.

Relief and aid efforts were hampered by flood damage to roads and bridges, as well as by coronavirus restrictions. Large areas of crops including rice, sesame and mangos were damaged, and fertile soils were either washed away or contaminated by saline sea water. Overall, Super Cyclone Amphan was the costliest event ever recorded in the North Indian Ocean, resulting in over $13 billion (£10 billion) of damage.

Two people assess a tree that has fallen across a road
In Kolkata, India, Super Cyclone Amphan caused widespread damage. Indrajit Das/Wikimedia

In a recent study led by the University of Bristol and drawing on research from Bangladesh and France, we’ve investigated how the effects of storm surges like that caused by Amphan on the populations of India and Bangladesh might change under different future climate and population scenarios.

Amphan: Mark II

Rising sea levels – thanks largely to melting glaciers and ice sheets – appear to be behind the greatest uptick in future risk from cyclone flooding, since they allow storm surges to reach further inland. It’s therefore key to understand and predict how higher sea levels might exacerbate storm-driven flooding, in order to minimise loss and damage in coastal regions.


Read more: Storm surge: this misunderstood threat can be every bit as deadly as a tsunami


Our research used climate models from CMIP6, the latest in a series of projects aiming to improve our understanding of climate by comparing simulations produced by different modelling groups around the world. First we modelled future sea-level rise according to different future emissions scenarios, then we added that data to storm surge estimates taken from a model of Super Cyclone Amphan.

We ran three scenarios: a low emission scenario, a business-as-usual scenario and a high emission scenario. And in addition to modelling sea-level rise, we also estimated future populations across India and Bangladesh to assess how many more people storm surges could affect. In most cases, we found that populations are likely to rise: especially in urban areas.

Our findings were clear: exposure to flooding from cyclone storm surges is extremely likely to increase. In India, exposure increase ranged from 50-90% for the lowest emission scenario, to a 250% increase for the highest emission scenario. In Bangladesh, we found a 0-20% exposure increase for the lowest emission scenario and a 60-70% increase for the highest emission scenario. The difference in exposure between the two countries is mostly due to declining coastal populations as a result of urban migration inland.

Imagine we’re now in 2100. Even in a scenario where we’ve managed to keep global emissions relatively low, the local population exposed to storm surge flooding from an event like Amphan will have jumped by ~350,000. Compare this to a high emission scenario, where an extra 1.35 million people will now be exposed to flooding. And for flood depths of over one metre – a depth that poses immediate danger to life – almost half a million more people will be exposed to storm surge flooding in a high emission scenario, compared to a low emission scenario.

A composite satellite image of a large white cyclone
A satellite image shows Amphan approaching the coasts of India and Bangladesh. Pierre Markuse/Wikimedia

This research provides yet more support for rapidly and permanently reducing our greenhouse gas emissions to keep global warming at 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels.


Read more: Climate breakdown: even if we miss the 1.5°C target we must still fight to prevent every single increment of warming


Although we’ve focused on storm surge flooding, other cyclone-related hazards are also projected to worsen, including deadly heatwaves following cyclones hitting land. And in the case of Amphan, interplay between climate change and coronavirus likely made the situation for people on the ground far worse. As the world warms, we mustn’t avoid the reality that pandemics and other climate-related crises are only forecast to increase.

Urgent action on emissions is vital to protect highly climate-vulnerable countries from the fatal effects of extreme weather. Amphan Mark II need not be as destructive as we’ve projected if the world’s governments act now to meet Paris agreement climate goals.

Laurence Hawker receives funding from Natural Environment Research Council (NERC).

Dann Mitchell receives funding from NERC.

Natalie Lord received funding from NERC.

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Cruise Line Drops Pre-Cruise Covid Testing Rule

The major cruise lines walk a delicate line. They need to take the actual steps required to keep their passengers safe and they also need to be aware of…

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The major cruise lines walk a delicate line. They need to take the actual steps required to keep their passengers safe and they also need to be aware of how things look to the outside public. It's a mix of practical covid policy balanced with covid theater.

You have to do the right thing -- and Royal Caribbean International (RCL) - Get Royal Caribbean Group Report, Carnival Cruise Lines (CCL) - Get Carnival Corporation Report, and Norwegian Cruise Lines (NCLH) - Get Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings Ltd. Report have been doing that with very meticulous protocols-- but you also have to show the general public you're taking the pandemic seriously. The cruise industry has been under the microscope of both public perception and the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) since covid first appeared.

That's not because you're likely to get infected on a cruise ship than at a concert, sporting event, theme park, restaurant, or any other crowded space. It's because when you get sick at one of those locations nobody can pinpoint the source of your infection

Cruises last from 3 days to 7 days or even longer and that means that some people will get covid onboard and that will be blamed on the cruise industry. To mitigate that Carnival, Royal Caribbean, and Norwegian have rigid protocols in place that require passengers 12 and over to be vaccinated as well as pre-cruise covid tests taken no more than two days before your cruise leaves.

Once cruise line has dropped that testing requirement (at least on a few sailings) and that could lead Royal Caribbean, Carnival, and Norwegian to follow. 

Sina Schuldt/picture alliance via Getty

Holland America Drops Some Covid Testing

As the largest cruise lines sailing from the U.S., Royal Caribbean, Carnival, and Norwegian don't want to be the first to make major covid policy changes. They acted more or less in tandem when it came to loosening, then dropping mask rules and have generally followed the lead of the CDC, even when that agency's rules became optional.

Now, Holland America cruise line has dropped pre-cruise covid testing on a handful of cruises. It's a minor move, but it does provide cover and precedent for Royal Caribbean, Carnival, and Norwegian to eventually do the same.

"Holland America Line becomes the first US-based cruise line to remove testing for select cruises. Unfortunately for those taking a cruise from the United States, the new protocols are only in place for certain cruises onboard the company’s latest ship, the Rotterdam, in Europe," Cruisehive reported.

The current CDC guidelines do recommend pre-cruise testing, but the cruise lines into following those rules. By picking cruises sailing out of Europe, Holland America avoids picking a fight with the federal agency just yet, but it will be able to gather data as to whether the pre-cruise testing actually helps.

Holland America has not changed its vaccination requirements for those cruises which mirror the 12-and-up rule used by Royal Caribbean, Carnival, and Norwegian.

Some guests have called for the end of the testing requirement because they believe it's more theater than precaution because people can test and then contract covid while traveling to their cruise.

The Current Cruise Protocols Work

Royal Caribbean President Michael Bayley does expect changes to come in his cruise line's covid protocols, and he talked about them during Royal Caribbean's recent President's Cruise, the Royal Caribbean Blog reported.

"I think pre cruise testing is going to be around for another couple of months," Bayley told passengers during a question and answer session. "We obviously want it to go back to normal, but we're incredibly cognizant of our responsibilities to keep our crew, the communities and our guests safe."

People do still get covid onboard despite the crew being 100% vaccinated and all passengers 12 and over being vaccinated, but the protocols have worked well when it comes to preventing serious illness.

Bayley said that the CDC shared some information with him in a call.

"The cruise industry sailing out of the US ports over the past 12 months and how many people have been hospitalized with Covid and how many deaths occurred from Covid from people who'd sailed on the industry's ships, which is in the millions," he said, "And the number of people who died from COVID who'd sailed on ships over the past year was two."

That success may be why the major cruise lines are reluctant to make changes. The current rules, even if they're partially for show, have been incredibly effective.

"Two is terrible. But but but against the context of everything we've seen, that's it's truly been a remarkable success." he added.

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Visualizing A Decade Of Population Growth And Decline In US Counties

Visualizing A Decade Of Population Growth And Decline In US Counties

There are a number of factors that determine how much a region’s population…

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Visualizing A Decade Of Population Growth And Decline In US Counties

There are a number of factors that determine how much a region’s population changes.

If an area sees a high number of migrants, along with a strong birth rate and low death rate, then its population is bound to increase over time. On the flip side, as Visual Capitalists Nick Routley details below, if more people are leaving the area than coming in, and the region’s birth rate is low, then its population will likely decline.

Which areas in the United States are seeing the most growth, and which places are seeing their populations dwindle?

This map, using data from the U.S. Census Bureau, shows a decade of population movement across U.S. counties, painting a detailed picture of U.S. population growth between 2010 and 2020.

Counties With The Biggest Population Growth from 2010-2020

To calculate population estimates for each county, the U.S. Census Bureau does the following calculations:

      A county’s base population → plus births → minus deaths → plus migration = new population estimate

From 2010 to 2020, Maricopa County in Arizona saw the highest increase in its population estimate. Over a decade, the county gained 753,898 residents. Below are the counties that saw the biggest increases in population:

Phoenix and surrounding areas grew faster than any other major city in the country. The region’s sunny climate and amenities are popular with retirees, but another draw is housing affordability. Families from more expensive markets—California in particular—are moving to the city in droves. This is a trend that spilled over into the pandemic era as more people moved into remote and hybrid work situations.

Texas counties saw a lot of growth as well, with five of the top 10 gainers located in the state of Texas. A big draw for Texas is its relatively affordable housing market. In 2021, average home prices in the state stood at $172,500$53,310 below the national average.

Counties With The Biggest Population Drops from 2010-2020

On the opposite end of the spectrum, here’s a look at the top 10 counties that saw the biggest declines in their populations over the decade:

The largest drops happened in counties along the Great Lakes, including Cook County (which includes the city of Chicago) and Wayne County (which includes the city of Detroit).

For many of these counties, particularly those in America’s “Rust Belt”, population drops over this period were a continuation of decades-long trends. Wayne County is an extreme example of this trend. From 1970 to 2020, the area lost one-third of its population.

U.S. Population Growth in Percentage Terms (2010-2020)

While the map above is great at showing where the greatest number of Americans migrated, it downplays big changes in counties with smaller populations.

For example, McKenzie County in North Dakota, with a 2020 population of just 15,242, was the fastest-growing U.S. county over the past decade. The county’s 138% increase was driven primarily by the Bakken oil boom in the area. High-growth counties in Texas also grew as new sources of energy were extracted in rural areas.

The nation’s counties are evenly divided between population increase and decline, and clear patterns emerge.

Pandemic Population Changes

More recent population changes reflect longer-term trends. During the COVID-19 pandemic, many of the counties that saw the strongest population increases were located in high-growth states like Florida and Texas.

Below are the 20 counties that grew the most from 2020 to 2021.

Many of these counties are located next to large cities, reflecting a shift to the suburbs and larger living spaces. However, as COVID-19 restrictions ease, and the pandemic housing boom tapers off due to rising interest rates, it remains to be seen whether the suburban shift will continue, or if people begin to migrate back to city centers.

Tyler Durden Sat, 07/02/2022 - 21:00

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Tesla EV deliveries fall nearly 18% in second quarter following China factory shutdown

Tesla delivered 254,695 electric vehicles globally in the second quarter, a nearly 18% drop from the previous period as supply chain constraints, China’s…

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Tesla delivered 254,695 electric vehicles globally in the second quarter, a nearly 18% drop from the previous period as supply chain constraints, China’s extended COVID-19 lockdown and challenges around opening factories in Berlin and Austin took their toll on the company.

This is the first time in two years that Tesla deliveries, which were 310,048 in the first period this year, have fallen quarter over quarter. Tesla deliveries were up 26.5% from the second quarter last year.

The quarter-over-quarter reduction is in line with a broader supply chain problem in the industry. It also illustrates the importance of Tesla’s Shanghai factory to its business. Tesla shuttered its Shanghai factory multiple times in March due to rising COVID-19 cases that prompted a government shutdown.

Image Credits: Tesla/screenshot

The company said Saturday it produced 258,580 EVs, a 15% reduction from the previous quarter when it made 305,407 vehicles.

Like in other quarters over the past two years, most of the produced and delivered vehicles were Model 3 and Model Ys. Only 16,411 of the produced vehicles were the older Model S and Model X vehicles.

Tesla said in its released that June 2022 was the highest vehicle production month in Tesla’s history. Despite that milestone, the EV maker as well as other companies in the industry, have struggled to keep apace with demand as supply chain problems persist.

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