Friday, November 02, 2012

Climate Change & Hurricane/Hybrid Sandy: You Decide




I've debated on whether or not I should weigh in on the Hurricane Sandy/Climate Change/Global Warming debate circling the blog sphere.  Even saying the words "debate" in the context of Global Warming or Climate Change is tantamount to treason and a reason to fight for some. Others would argue that I've left the AGW door wide open for a huge ransack.

So rather than take a stance either way, I want to list the components that went into the development of this storm in no particular order and leave it to you to allocate what percentage of influence each component contributed to the evolution of Hurricane Sandy and the subsequent hybrid.  Is it the natural cycles or the Anthropogenic drivers or a blend of both?  One more than the other,etc.

1. Strong sub tropical jet stream along the east coast moving southwest to northeast

2. Very strong polar jet merging with the sub tropical jet

3. Greenland Block (High pressure over the North Atlantic/southern Greenland)

4. Upper level trough became negatively tilted (that is the trough was oriented NW to SE) established by the Greenland Block

5. Sea Level increase along the east coast

6. Warmer Atlantic Ocean overall - Atlantic Multidecadal Oscillation cycle

7. Above normal water temperatures in the Atlantic right off of the east coast

8. Arctic Ice Loss

Am I missing any?

Your thoughts.....

9 comments:

Ctrymom3 said...

Well, I would have to say, from what you listed, Sandy was a mixture of many different elements, some common and some not so common. I can see how you could blame it on climate change, however you could say it was natural causes as well. But I think we must look at the whole picture and the fact that this storm is a once in a lifetime event, and although natural causes were a part of the production of Sandy, there were also some very uncommon elements as well that we may want to look into and take more seriously.

Ctrymom3 said...

Well, I would have to say, from what you listed, Sandy was a mixture of many different elements, some common and some not so common. I can see how you could blame it on climate change, however you could say it was natural causes as well. But I think we must look at the whole picture and the fact that this storm is a once in a lifetime event, and although natural causes were a part of the production of Sandy, there were also some very uncommon elements as well that we may want to look into and take more seriously.

Jim Sullivan said...

Scott, from what everything I've seen, it is difficult to pin Sandy on climate change.

The tropical element of the whole situation was nothing out of the ordinary. The hurricane held steady over the Gulf stream due to a fantastic jet configuration ventilating the system, with the warm waters maintaining the warm core. Once Sandy was north of the Gulf Stream, the tropical part quickly got sheared apart and began weakening, which would have happened whether the waters off the east coast were warmer than normal or not, in my opinion.

If hurricanes do form in late October or November, the Caribbean is also a common place for it to happen.

What made Sandy so high-impact was its size and where it hit. Sandy's size grew first over the Bahamas when it interacted with an upper level low, and then grew further off the Jersey coast as it interacted/phased with the deep cold core trough over the Ohio Valley. I don't think that can be pinned on climate change either.

What also contributed was the baroclinic forcing provided for by the cold core trough allowed Sandy to maintain hurricane force winds through landfall. It has been documented before that post-tropical cyclones can strengthen due to a shot of baroclinic energy (think Hazel, or more recently, Ike). So that isn't climate change related.

The one aspect that MIGHT be KIND OF climate change related is the insane block that forced Sandy northwest and forced the cold core trough to take on a negative tilt. It has been speculated that the warmer arctic may contribute to more frequent episodes of blocking. However, -NAO's occurred decades upon decades ago, so it is still IMO hard to pin that one down on climate change.

Ed Taylor said...

I read and view Popular Science magazine as one that fully supports Climate Change (global warming) as totally fact and was surprised to find an article that left Sandy somewhere in the middle of warming and normal in long term cycles. I am still unclear on what is causing the warming. I don't believe it can be totally blamed on man. Why do we ignore what is happening is the southern hemisphere? Here is the PS article. http://www.popsci.com/environment/article/2012-10/5-climate-change-truths-about-hurricane-sandy

Ed Taylor said...

I read and view Popular Science magazine as one that fully supports Climate Change (global warming) as totally fact and was surprised to find an article that left Sandy somewhere in the middle of warming and normal in long term cycles. I am still unclear on what is causing the warming. I don't believe it can be totally blamed on man. Why do we ignore what is happening is the southern hemisphere? Here is the PS article. http://www.popsci.com/environment/article/2012-10/5-climate-change-truths-about-hurricane-sandy

Randy said...

Hurricane Sandy’s unprecedented storm surge was likely surpassed in the New England hurricanes of 1635 and 1638. From 1635 through 1954, New England was hit by at least five hurricanes producing greater than 3 m storm surges in New England. Analysis of sediment cores led to the conclusion “that at least seven hurricanes of intensity sufficient to produce storm surge capable of overtopping the barrier beach (>3 m) at Succotash Marsh have made landfall in southern New England in the past 700 yr.” All seven of those storms occurred prior to 1960.

http://wattsupwiththat.com/2012/11/01/hurricane-sandys-unprecedented-storm-surge/

Randy said...

"Hurricane Sandy’s storm surge was likely surpassed in the New England hurricanes of 1635 and 1638. From 1635 through 1954, New England was hit by at least five hurricanes producing greater than 3 m storm surges in New England. Analysis of sediment cores led to the conclusion “that at least seven hurricanes of intensity sufficient to produce storm surge capable of overtopping the barrier beach (>3 m) at Succotash Marsh have made landfall in southern New England in the past 700 yr.” All seven of those storms occurred prior to 1960."



http://wattsupwiththat.com/2012/11/01/hurricane-sandys-unprecedented-storm-surge/

B Erhart said...

Rumor has it that the Gulf Stream IS 6-8 degrees F WARMER than average?

Irony is Sandy took out the Wall St moneychangers who have been paying exorbitant sums to obfuscate whether there is something going on regarding climate stability.

Time for levy/flood protection on coastal metropolitan areas might be RELOCATION as the ONLY OPTION as the insurance costs become prohibitive...

B Erhart said...

Rumor has it that the Gulf Stream IS 6-8 degrees F WARMER than average?

Irony is Sandy took out the Wall St moneychangers who have been paying exorbitant sums to obfuscate whether there is something going on regarding climate stability.

Time for levy/flood protection on coastal metropolitan areas might be RELOCATION as the ONLY OPTION as the insurance costs become prohibitive...