An aerial view of damage from Hurricane Sandy to the New Jersey coast

Did climate change play a role in Hurricane Sandy? New York governor Andrew Cuomo thinks so, and New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg, former president Bill Clinton, and former vice president Al Gore also believe global warming may have played a role in bringing ashore Sandy, the largest hurricane ever recorded in the Atlantic.

 “There has been a series of extreme weather incidents. That is not a political statement. That is a factual statement,” Cuomo said, at press briefing the day after the storm. “Anyone who says there’s not a dramatic change in weather patterns, I think, is denying reality.” He later added, “I think part of learning from this is realizing that climate change is a reality.”

Don Nardo, author of Extreme Threats: Climate Change, explains why hurricanes like Sandy are happening with more frequency:

 “The largest of all extreme rainfall events, of course, are hurricanes. These giant storms spawned in Earth’s oceans have occurred for millions of years and will continue in the future. The difference, researchers say, is that some future hurricanes will be much stronger and more dangerous than those in the past. That this will happen as large sectors of the planet’s surface grow warmer should not be too suprising. After all, hurricanes are essentially huge heat engines. The are born from and driven by warmth drawn from the oceans. The warmer the water such a storm encounters, the more energy it absorbs. That energy then manifests itself in stronger winds and the creation of bigger storm surges (walls of water pushed along by large ocean storms). As climate change steadily increases ocean temperatures, hurricanes will either become more frequent, stronger, or both.”

 More than 110 deaths have been blamed on Sandy, and early calculations put the damage caused by the hurricane, which affected at least twenty-four states, at $20 billion. And, for those caught in the storm, and left to rebuild their homes and lives, the emotional and psychological damage is surely incalculable.  To help you decide for yourself if climate change affects the increase in the strength of hurricanes check out Extreme Threats: Climate Change by Don Nardo (978-1-59935-119-3).

 Sharon F. Doorasamy

Managing Editor

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Published in: on November 5, 2012 at 2:05 pm  Leave a Comment  
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