AMY GOODMAN: […] Where is the discussion of climate change, Michael Mann? And what is the connection between this Hurricane Matthew and climate change?
MICHAEL MANN: Thanks, Amy. You know, it’s unfortunate that some in the weather community are not providing that critical context for understanding this trend towards increasingly devastating tropical storms and hurricanes. Matthew is a very good example of a storm that was unique, unprecedented, in certain respects. It intensified far more quickly than any other storm that we’ve seen in modern history, basically going from not even a tropical depression to a near-hurricane-strength storm over the course of, you know, less than half a day, and then, the next day, of course, strengthening into a major hurricane, a Category 5 hurricane. […]
And where that intensification, where that rapid intensification occurred was in the region of the Caribbean that has the greatest heat content, not just that the ocean surface temperatures are warm, but there’s a very deep layer of warm water. And that’s important, because that helps sustain these storms as they churn up the ocean. The churning doesn’t bring cold water to the surface to weaken the storm, if there’s a deep layer of warmth. And that all has a climate change signature with it, not just the fact that the ocean surface temperatures in the Caribbean are at near-record levels, but the—just the sheer depth of that warm water is unprecedented. And as the surface warming penetrates into the ocean, we are seeing increases in ocean heat content. Last year was the warmest our oceans have ever been on record. And that’s critical context. It’s that warmth that provides the energy that intensifies these storms. And it isn’t a coincidence that we’ve seen the strongest hurricane in both hemispheres within the last year.