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An articel today over at Scientific American makes a fairly persuasive argument that Sandy got its power tahnks in large part to Global Warming:

If you’ve followed the U.S. news and weather in the past 24 hours you have no doubt run across a journalist or blogger explaining why it’s difficult to say that climate change could be causing big storms like Sandy. Well, no doubt here: it is.

I am no meteorologist or climatologist or any kind -ologist, but I can understand this article basically telling the tale of how Global Warming is messing up the Jet Stream and how it sent the cold Jet Stream south from Canada to add fuel to the already growing Sandy fire:

Hurricane Sandy got large because it wandered north along the U.S. coast, where ocean water is still warm this time of year, pumping energy into the swirling system. But it got even larger when a cold Jet Stream made a sharp dip southward from Canada down into the eastern U.S. The cold air, positioned against warm Atlantic air, added energy to the atmosphere and therefore to Sandy, just as it moved into that region, expanding the storm even further.

Here’s where climate change comes in. The atmospheric pattern that sent the Jet Stream south is colloquially known as a “blocking high”—a big pressure center stuck over the very northern Atlantic Ocean and southern Arctic Ocean. And what led to that? A climate phenomenon called the North Atlantic Oscillation (NAO)—essentially, the state of atmospheric pressure in that region. This state can be positive or negative, and it had changed from positive to negative two weeks before Sandy arrived. The climate kicker? Recent research by Charles Greene at Cornell University and other climate scientists has shown that as more Arctic sea ice melts in the summer—because of global warming—the NAO is more likely  to be negative during the autumn and winter. A negative NAO makes the Jet Stream more likely to move in a big, wavy pattern across the U.S., Canada and the Atlantic, causing the kind of big southward dip that occurred during Sandy.

Sandy-Jetstream-1

The article also mentions the other usual contributors, warmer oceans and warmer atmosphere add fuel and moisture.  And the author, Mark Fischetti, makes another interesting point. Folks who have money art risk from big storms, insurers are payng attention:

Now, as promised: If you still don’t believe scientists, then believe insurance giant Munich Re. In her October 29 post at the The New Yorker, writer Elizabeth Kolbert notes:

Munich Re, one of the world’s largest reinsurance firms, issued a study titled “Severe Weather in North America.” According to the press release that accompanied the report, “Nowhere in the world is the rising number of natural catastrophes more evident than in North America.” … While many factors have contributed to this trend, including an increase in the number of people living in flood-prone areas, the report identified global warming as one of the major culprits: “Climate change particularly affects formation of heat-waves, droughts, intense precipitation events, and in the long run most probably also tropical cyclone intensity.”

Finally, the name Scientific American is very confusing to Republicans, I know, because they love America and Americans (they like to tell us), but they hate Science, right?

Originally posted to Gangster Octopus on Tue Oct 30, 2012 at 10:57 AM PDT.

Also republished by Climate Change SOS, DK GreenRoots, and Science Matters.

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