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Is global warming at play in “Frankenstorm”?

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Greg Peck
October 31, 2012

The thought crossed my mind the first time I heard the term “Frankenstorm,” the monstrous Halloween-week storm involving Hurricane Sandy and other atmospheric conditions that swamped New York and much of the East Coast. Is global warming a factor? After all, scientists who believe that humans are causing global warming say we’re more at risk of weather extremes and massive storms.

An Associated Press story in today’s Gazette examines the evidence. Yes, the sea level around New York is about a foot higher than it was 100 years ago. The Atlantic Ocean also is about 2 degrees warmer than it was a century ago. Both conditions played roles in this damaging storm.

Canada’s University of Victoria climate scientist Andrew Weaver said, however, that while climate change might have cooked ingredients of this storm a bit, “the overall storm is difficult to attribute to global warming.”

Likewise, Jennifer Francis of Rutgers University is an expert in how the warming Arctic causes extreme weather patterns. She told the AP that recent warming in the Arctic may have played a role in enlarging or prolonging a high pressure ridge centered over Greenland that blocked Sandy from tracking north or east and instead turned it toward New Jersey. She cautioned, however, that it’s not clear whether the warming really had that influence on Sandy.

Do you believe in global warming? Are you concerned that it played a role in this storm? Do you think our politicians are paying enough attention to global warming?

Greg Peck can be reached at (608) 755-8278 or gpeck@gazettextra.com. Or follow him on Twitter or Facebook



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