A Word About Sandy
Posted by Pete Bouchard
As the details and images of Sandy's destructive power continue to swirl in the media, it appears a campaign has surfaced - via email and even open-air protests - to force the discussion of climate change into the public eye. While I've never been a fan of strong-arming someone into believing what I believe, this does seem like a good time to bring the subject back into discussion.
Credible arguments don't (or shouldn't) suggest that climate change had a direct hand in forming Sandy, but perhaps the conditions in the Atlantic were favorable for her to maintain her strength and perhaps even be steered in our direction. Sea surface temperatures are running 3 degrees above normal off the Eastern Seaboard. The overwhelming size of the Greenland Block is a direct result of unprecedented glacial/permafrost melt in the last decade. Both of those factors contributed to her size, strength and ultimate path into the Northeast.
Bottom line in all this: the extremes we have seen and their overall frequency across the globe cannot be explained by normal climate variation. Coupled with the loss of ice and warming arctic, the evidence is overwhelming.
Now full disclosure: I am on the American Meteorological Society's (AMS) Committee to Improve Climate Change Communication (CICCC). The committee's main goal is just as its title states, to bring opposing sides together for healthy discourse and REPECTFUL dialogue. A recent study of our peers shows that attitudes are changing about climate change. Too many times, I have been to weather conferences where open debate turns to personal insult. I hope this committee will help to change that. And while I am by no means an expert on climate change, I also hope to learn more and honestly reflect the views of those working in the field (doing ice core samples in very inhospitable environments) and the AMS.