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News

Hurricane Harvey rainfall 'weighed 127bn tonnes'

  • Author:bbc news
  • Source:bbc news
  • Release on :2017-12-14


 

Scientists have weighed the water that fell on Texas during the record-breaking Hurricane Harvey in August.

 

They calculate, by measuring how much the Earth was compressed, that the Category 4 storm dropped 127 billion tonnes, or 34 trillion gallons.

 

"One person asked me how many stadia is that. It's 26,000 New Orleans Superdomes," said Adrian Borsa from the Scripps Institution of Oceanography.

His numbers were released as other scientists stated that this year's big hurricanes had a clear human influence.

 

Harvey, Irma and Maria ripped through the US Gulf states and the Caribbean, leading to widespread flooding and wind damage.

 

Researchers told the annual meeting of the American Geophysical Union here in New Orleans that the heavy rainfall seen in Harvey was very likely exacerbated by the extra warming associated with increased greenhouse gases in the atmosphere.

 

Sea surface temperatures were particularly high in the Atlantic and the Gulf of Mexico this hurricane season. Warm ocean water acts as a fuel for the storms.

Harvey devastated parts of the Texas coastline because it stalled, concentrating its deluge in a very narrow region. It was one of the heaviest precipitation events in recorded hurricane history.

Standard rain gauges recorded upwards of 1,270mm (50 inches) of precipitation in places. But these were point measurements and Dr Borsa attempted to get a much broader view by measuring how much the Earth moved in response to the weight of overlying water.

This was detected by a network of high-precision GPS stations. "It's like you sitting down on a mattress - it depresses; you stand up and it rebounds. The Earth behaves very similarly, like a rubber block.

"So the Earth is recording the effects of the loads acting on its surface."

The GPS network is dense enough that a very wide picture of activity can be discerned. "It gives us a holistic view, not just point measurements,” Dr Borsa told BBC News.

Above news from BBC news.