Climate change

Is Hurricane Sandy a Result of Climate Change?

Tropical storms are created when warm ocean waves off the African coast are lunched out to sea. It’s tough to find direct correlations between hurricanes and climate change, but experts like Bill McKibben are increasingly linking warmer oceans to the increased number and severity of storms like Sandy AKA Frankenstorm; “You can’t, as the climate-change deniers love to say, blame any particular hurricane on global warming. They’re born, as they always have been, when a tropical wave launches off the African coast and heads out into the open ocean. But when that ocean is hot—and at the moment sea surface temperatures off the Northeast are five degrees higher than normal—a storm like Sandy can lurch north longer and stronger, drawing huge quantities of moisture into its clouds, and then dumping them ashore.”

Droughts, floods and superstorms are becoming increasingly severe and more prevalent as climate change moves from the realm of controversial tree-hugger theory to real-life phenomenon. Hurricane Sandy is somewhat of an anomaly as it was created by more than just warmer oceans. Sandy is not only a hurricane, but also draws from a large horizontal temperature gradient which gives it aspects of a winter storm. This temperature gradient, called the North Atlantic Oscillation (NAO), is state of atmospheric pressure that can be either positive or negative. According to recent studies by Charles Greene of Cornell University and confirmed by other studies, the NAO is usually negative in the fall thanks to increasing Arctic melt caused by global warming.

This means that the warming oceans, melting sea ice and warmer atmosphere (which retains more moisture) work together to turn storms into superstorms.
Emboldened by a growing number of climate change supporters as well as increased frequency and severity of storms, more scientists are linking climate change directly to storm systems.


Nikki is an author and writer specializing in green living ideas and tips, adventure travel, upcycling, and all things eco-friendly. She's traveled the globe, swum with sharks and been bitten by a lion (fact). She lives in a tiny town with a fat cat and a very bad dog.

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