Superstorm Sandy is a climate wake-up call

• October 31, 2012
Hurricane Sandy making landfall over New Jersey

Courtesy: NASA Goddard Photo & Video, 2012

I’ve been asked many times in the past 24 hours if climate change was the cause of the superstorm/post-tropical cyclone named Sandy. The answer is simple… Yes, partially.

While there certainly have been other late season hurricanes in the past — the “Perfect Storm” of 1991 or the “Long Island Express” of 1938 — the way in which Sandy came together with two other fronts is something new, and indicates the type of volatility we should begin to expect as our climate warms up.
Just listen to the way experts have been attempting to describe this new type of superstorm:
  • Jim Cisco, forecaster at NOAA: “Frankenstorm
  • Stu Ostro, chief meteorologist at Weather Channel: “mind-boggling
  • Dylan Dreyer, NBC meteorologist: “There is just no word for it
  • Carl Parker, forecaster “This has never happened before”
Though Sandy is remarkable, scientists have been reluctant to firmly apply the “climate change” stamp to Sandy. Why? The area of climate research known as “Attribution” (which looks for cause & effect relationships between long-term climate systems and short-term weather systems) is a very new field, made possible only recently by better data and better computers. Because Attribution is a new field, it is impossible for scientists to make 99% certainty claims about anything. But in just the past few years very, very strong connections have emerged.

Read more: Mother Nature Network >>

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TckTckTck is the online hub for the Global Call for Climate Action. The GCCA represents an unprecedented alliance of more than 400 nonprofit organizations from around the world. Our shared mission is to mobilize civil society and galvanize public support to ensure a safe climate future for people and nature, to promote the low-carbon transition of our economies, and to accelerate the adaptation efforts in communities already affected by climate change.

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