Skip to comments.Sandy and Climate Change. Complex science, simpleminded politics.
Posted on 11/03/2012 7:46:46 AM PDT by SeekAndFind
The case for climate change, formerly the case for global warming, entails a series of propositions that begin with the unobjectionable and escalate to the absurd: that the climate is changing, that these changes are likely to be dangerous and destructive, that these changes are in the main the result of human action, that carbon-dioxide emissions are the major factor, that these changes can be forestalled or reversed by political means, that such political actions are likely to be on the right side of the cost-benefit analysis, etc. The least plausible claims are those holding that specific events, such as the horrific damage inflicted by Hurricane Sandy, are attributable to specific U.S. public-policy decisions. That this lattermost claim is absurd and stands in contravention of the best scientific analysis has not stopped the most hysterical climate alarmists from making it, but then it is the nature of hysterical alarmists to exceed the bounds of reason.
Among others, Chris Mooney of Mother Jones was sure enough of himself to declare categorically of Sandy: Climate change, a topic embarrassingly ignored in the three recent presidential debates, made it worse. Bill McKibben of Democracy Now and others on the left made similar statements, while Businessweek practically wet itself. There is little or no evidence that this claim is true in any meaningful sense, and many climate scientists believe that warming has resulted in fewer powerful hurricanes striking the United States. As usual, the science is complex while the politics are unfortunately simpleminded.
The conventional climate-change argument holds that warmer oceans will lead to more intense hurricanes and other extreme weather events. But Sandy was not an unprecedentedly powerful hurricane it inflicted such remarkable damage because it arrived at the confluence of a noreaster and a high-pressure system, and plowed into densely populated urban areas at high tide. In fact, the arrival of powerful hurricanes on our shores is somewhat diminished of late: The last Category 3 hurricane to make landfall was seven years ago, the longest such interval in a century. As Professor Roger Pielke Jr. of the University of Colorado points out, 195455 saw three back-to-back hurricanes two in the same month more destructive than Sandy crashing onto our shores.
It is true that the New York harbor is about a foot higher than it was a century ago, though how much of that is the result of anthropogenic global warming is uncertain. But that additional foot, even if it were entirely the result of a failure to control carbon-dioxide emissions, was a relatively small component in the monstrous storm tide that inundated New York, New Jersey, and other coastal areas. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Changes projections, contrary to the alarmists, do not suggest that future storm surges would be much worse as a result of global warming. (See here, for example.)
There were a great many institutional failures that made Sandy worse than it had to be. In retrospect, Mayor Bloomberg should perhaps have been worried more about the readiness of the citys hospitals than the salt content of its snack foods. His obsession with Big Gulps, in the context of this destruction, is both hilarious and horrifying. Perhaps there was nothing that could have been done to prevent the flooding of the tunnels and the collapse of the electrical supply, but surely a great deal of capital and energy that were directed toward trivial pursuits good for very little other than generating headlines would have been better deployed toward the unglamorous but necessary work of ensuring that low-lying coastal cities are sufficiently inured to the threats posed by hurricanes and other common, inevitable events. New York City is many things: over-engineered against hurricanes is not one of them.
Resources are scarce. Even if we take at face value the entirety of the anthropogenic-global-warming hypothesis, it is extraordinarily unlikely that U.S. policies would succeed in halting or reversing that trend in a world in which China, India, and the rest of the developing world have made it plain that they will not reduce emissions under any foreseeable circumstances. Global-warming hysteria is a fashion, and it is exciting to a certain sort of person. Tunnel-improvement projects do not have the sex appeal of a global climate crusade, but they represent a more prudent use of our capital, both political and real. It would not be accurate to say that this hysteria serves no one, but Al Gores fortune is not in obvious need of further supplementation, and we did not believe Barack Obamas promise of halting the oceans rise the first time around.
But the eco-facists keep trying to take down our economy with BHO leading the way.
An example: Obie has Tax Dodging Tim and the US Treasurey financing a study that would link the tax code to the carbon emissions of businesses and each individual citizen, similar to what they are doing down in OZ.
However, Atlantic temperatures were warmer than normal in parts of Sandy's path (mostly towards the end). Just because Sandy had no hurricane force winds at landfall doesn't mean Sandy was weak. Sandy had more wind energy than most stronger hurricanes, but spread over a large area which can inflict more surge damage in the right (unlucky) circumstances.
Comparing small powerful hurricanes to Sandy is illustrative. Charley which hit Florida in 2004 was category 4 but very small. It's central pressure was only a bit lower than Sandy's (941 vs 948). It's winds were 140-150 mph and that caused a surge as much as 10 feet in a very small area. Sandy's surge would have been smaller but just happened to funnel into the NYC area at high tide. The 1821 hurricane hit NYC with a smaller surge but came at low tide so the surge would have been higher than Sandy's.
In short, the effects like surges are nothing new and we can't pretend they don't exist, "climate change" or not. But global warming, such as it is, has some effects: the current inch per decade sea level rise in places like NYC and the warmer Atlantic temperatures (although part of that warmth is AMO, a cycle). So we should set aside some money and build some surge barriers (e.g. Verrazano Narrows) and elevate the substations, buy some more pumps, etc.
Any 5th Grader knows its been 75 years since the Long island Express  wiped out NY city NJ LI. til Sandy repeated the feat- It`s the 8090 year solar Gleissberg cycles appearing to vary in length given to be 80-90-years (70-100 years)- Any kid knows that.
Yes, the dry (and cold) slot wrapped around Sandy starting east of Florida and prevented further strengthening. But the cold air around our latitude actually strengthened Sandy about a day before landfall (the dense cold air pushing the warm air upwards or baroclinic forcing). But the warmer than normal Atlantic was also a factor in that forcing.
I agree that the size given by the NHC and others was very deceptive, they measured the distance from the center to the farthest tropical storm force winds that they could find, then doubled that and gave it as the size. Completely wrong since the NE quadrant had some flung off convection and winds and the SW was very tight and small. The 80 mph surface wind gusts up in New England was from flung off convection despite not much rain overall. The jet on the north side was strong enough for 100G120 out of the east on Mount Washington (about 350 miles north of the center).
The cold front provided very little moisture. The vast majority of rainfall came from Sandy pushing moisture into the cold air. I had 5.5 inches in my normally dry valley in the SW quadrant of the storm. That was with a NW wind (normally downsloping and dry).
You are right that there were no hurricane force winds at landfall, not even by plane and definitely not on land. The closest I saw was 70 sustained but unconfirmed on the very top of the Bay Bridge.
The power of Sandy was coincidental from the high tide, the shape of NY/NJ coastline and the 100 mile width of east winds pushing water in that direction. Sandy moving west was sheer coincidence from the timing of the short wave to the SW.
For less than New York’s 10 billion in damage they could build a hurricane barrier at Verrazano narrows. Along with two smaller barriers it would turn Sandy into a run of the mill storm (although NJ would still get pummeled).
‘Climate change’ messed with the Earth’s satellite’s ORBIT??
The bozos conviently leave out the HIGH TIDE and the FULL MOON effect!!
For news accuracy, the TRUE STORM SURGE was really only 9, not 14 as portrayed by the media, given that high tide is 5
The Hurricane of 1821 (prior record) was 11.2, so Hurricane Sandys storm surge (actually surge + tide) was 2.6 higher than in 1821.
Given that high tide is 5 and low tide is minus 5, Hurricane Sandy might have, in fact, been less powerful than the 1821 record hurricane given that its likely that the 1821 Hurricane didnt hit exactly at high tide like Hurricane Sandy did.
In other words, the high tide alone might have been the key factor that gave Hurricane Sandy the extra height to break the prior record.
Prior record water level from Hurricane Donna that may have not hit at high tide were:
—Hurricane Donna (1960): Battery Park level = 10.02
Summary: To say that this is a harbinger of Global Warming, while ignoring the relatively quiet hurricane years since Katrina and is simply misleading.
How climate change amplified Sandy’s impacts | Center for Climate ...
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2 days ago The 13.8-foot surge measured at Battery Park in Lower Manhattan surpassed the all-time record of 11.2 feet set in 1821, flooding the New York ...
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Before the 1938 New England hurricane, it had been several decades since a hurricane of any significance adversely affected the northeastern Atlantic coastline. Nevertheless, history has shown that several severe hurricanes have affected the Northeast, although with much less frequency in comparison to areas of the Gulf, Florida, and southeastern Atlantic coastlines.
The Great September Gale of 1815 (the term hurricane was not yet common in the American vernacular), which hit New York City directly as a Category 3 hurricane, caused extensive damage and created an inlet that separated the Long Island resort towns of the Rockaways and Long Beach into two separate barrier islands.
The 1821 Norfolk and Long Island Hurricane, a Category 4 storm which made four separate landfalls in Virginia, New Jersey, New York, and southern New England. The storm created the highest recorded storm surge in Manhattan of nearly 13 feet and severely impacted the farming regions of Long Island and southern New England.
The 1869 Saxby Gale affected areas in Northern New England, decimating the Maine coastline and the Canadian Outer Banks. It was the last major hurricane to affect New England until the 1938 storm.
The 1893 New York hurricane, a Category 2 storm, directly hit the city itself, causing a great storm surge that pummeled the coastline, completely removing the Long Island resort town of Hog Island.
The years spanning 1893 to 1938 saw much demographic change in the Northeast as large influxes of European immigrants settled in cities and towns throughout New York and New England, many of whom knew little, if anything, about hurricanes. Most people at the time associated hurricanes with the warmer tropical regions off the Gulf Coast and southern North Atlantic waters off the Florida coastline, and not the colder Atlantic waters off New York and New England. The only tropical storms to affect the area in recent years had been weak remnant storms. A more common weather phenomenon was a noreaster, which is a powerful low-pressure storm common in the Northeast during fall and winter. Although Noreasters can produce winds that are similar to those in hurricanes, they do not produce the storm surge that proved to be the 1938 storm’s greatest killer. By 1938, most of the earlier storms were hardly remembered.
Nothing about naming marginal storms -- 3 just this year! -- that even a gung-ho global swarmist like Dr. Masters has questioned.
Is this really complicated science? Recorded climate data is a drop in the bucket compared to the existence of Earth.
Anytime you run into a lefty who starts in with the global warming nonsense, ask them what the temperture was at the signing of the Magna Carta, or the Dew Point at the Council of Trent, or the relative humidity at the Emancipation Proclamation.
And then watch them assume the fetal position.
So were people crying about climate change after these storms?