By Marc Kodack
Typhoon Hagibis came ashore in eastern Japan this past weekend resulting in multiple deaths while damaging or and destroying buildings and other infrastructure. It is the most powerful storm to hit Japan since 1958. U.S. military installations reported no deaths, but U.S. Naval Air Facility Atsugi, approximately 21 miles south of downtown Tokyo, incurred “structural or water damage to more than 20 structures.” Cleanup efforts continue across Japan.
Future attribution studies regarding climate change effects on the size and intensity of Typhoon Hagbis will determine the degree to which (or the probability that) it played a role. Two general climate change-driven trends for Japan, however, are that typhoons are likely to become more frequent and intense because ocean temperatures have been increasing as a result of global anthropogenic CO2 emissions. More intense typhoons have been occurring further north than in the past, partially driven by climate change. This drift in location may affect areas in northern Japan that are not used to being struck by these more intense storms. Storm damages has already been increasing since 1950, with even greater damages possible in the future because of changes in storm frequency and intensity.