A year later, Superstorm Sandy’s link to climate change seems stronger


A year ago today, Superstorm Sandy hit the states of New York and New Jersey, as well as other parts of the Eastern Seaboard, killing more than 100 people and causing billions of dollars in damage.

The argument that the big storm was spawned by climate change appears to be getting stronger, as Joe Romm notes HERE:

In particular, a recent study by NOAA researchers found, “climate-change related increases in sea level have nearly doubled today’s annual probability of a Sandy-level flood recurrence as compared to 1950.” On our current CO2 emissions path, the Jersey shore from Atlantic City to Cape May could see Sandy-level storm surges yearly by mid-century!

Dr. Jennifer Francis of Rutgers University’s Institute of Marine and Coastal Sciences is one of the world’s leading experts on the connection between climate change and extreme weather…She has also written about the many ways global warming made Sandy so unusually destructive.

I asked Dr. Francis for her latest thoughts on the link between human-caused climate change and the superstorm. She replied:

I think the case has strengthened. I’ve done a bit more research into the linkage with the very warm Arctic following the record 2012 ice loss, and it appears that the heat released from the Arctic Ocean in the fall created a substantial positive anomaly in the upper-level atmospheric heights in the North Atlantic. This likely contributed to the strong ridge and blocking high that existed when Sandy came along, and that ultimately not only steered Sandy westward but also set up the strong pressure gradient between Sandy and the blocking high that caused the enormous expanse of tropical-storm-force winds from Delaware to Nova Scotia.

In addition to the Arctic connection, the abnormally high sea-surface temperatures all along the eastern seaboard at the time, which must have some component associated with globally warming oceans, likely helped Sandy maintain tropical characteristics longer and allowed the storm to travel farther northward than would be expected in late October. Warmer ocean waters would also increase evaporation rates, adding to the moisture and latent heat available to the storm.


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