Links for Your Monday!

Hi dear readers,

We apologize for our recent silence over the airwaves, so to speak, but we have a few links for you today to start your week on a climate-conscious note.

In the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy, our thoughts remain with the families and victims affected by the storm. Sandy has sparked a larger discussion about severe storms and the possible linkage to climate change, so we thought we’d examine how global warming has finally re-emerged in the public sphere.

The elephant in the room arguably started trumpeting when New York mayor Michael Bloomberg endorsed President Obama post-Sandy (although whether Obama has taken sufficient action to address climate change is another question altogether). You can read the Bloomberg Business Week piece here.

Although it’s difficult to determine whether Sandy can fairly be attributed to climate change, it is true that warmer ocean temperatures and sea level rise will increase coastal flooding . The Scientific American does a great job laying out a basic explanation of the atmospheric dynamics on their blog.

As senior editor Mark Fischetti puts it,

“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.

Climate change amps up other basic factors that contribute to big storms. For example, the oceans have warmed, providing more energy for storms. And the Earth’s atmosphere has warmed, so it retains more moisture, which is drawn into storms and is then dumped on us. These changes contribute to all sorts of extreme weather.”  (You can read the entire blog post here).

Meanwhile, Sandy has also contributed to environmental toxins that influence water contamination and hazardous exposure to raw sewage.

What do you think about Hurricane Sandy and the possible connections to climate change? Do you think it will significantly change the conversation on climate change in the long-term?

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