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Will New England See More Powerful Storms Because Of Climate Change?

Sea water floods the Ground Zero construction site in New York City on Monday. (John Minchillo/AP)

Sea water floods the Ground Zero construction site in New York City on Monday. (John Minchillo/AP)

In the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy, more than 250,000 people in Massachusetts are without power.

Nationally, more than seven million people have no power and at least 35 are dead. Economic damages from the storm could be at least $20 billion. Meteorologists are calling Sandy one of the most powerful hurricanes ever to hit the Eastern Seaboard.

Though Massachusetts dodged the worst of Sandy’s effects, the Bay State may not be so lucky next time. According to a report issued last week by Massachusetts Congressman Ed Markey, “The New New England: How Climate Change Jeopardizes The Northeast’s Economy And Environment,” extreme rain and snowfall events have increased by 85 percent in New England since the 1940s.

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  • Nancy

    Anthony, here is a great piece by Stephen Leahy, an environmental journalist, about connecting the dots between Sandy and global warming:
     http://hurricanesandyspeaks.com/2012/10/29/message-from-hurricane-sandy-people-call-me-frankenstorm-superstorm-weatherbomb/

  • Don

    On Tom Ashbrook’s show today, the chief scientist of the NOAA directly contradicted the whole notion of this conversation. He said that there is absolutely no evidence that the size or intensity of hurricanes is related to climate change.

    • Beth

      This statement is not accurate. Like today’s guests, Frank Marks, director of the Hurricane Research Division at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, said it is difficult to draw a one-to-one correlation between climate change and any given storm. He did say that there is unequivocal evidence that ocean temperatures are rising, and higher ocean temperatures contribute to the intensity of storms.

      • PithHelmut

        Arguing about each point misses the point. One doesn’t need to be a climatologist to figure that losing half the Arctic of its ice is going to feed a brewing climate. Not to mention that melted ice will now be heating up the seas even faster.  There’s methane down there in the form of permafrost and we know that already that has started erupting to the tune of a diameter of around 1 kilometer.  And we’re just entering the southern hemisphere’s summer.  All I can do to shake my head in disbelief in our species.

    • Meghna Chakrabarti

      Don, here’s the NOAA analysis I was referring to:

      http://www.gfdl.noaa.gov/global-warming-and-hurricanesIt begins: “It is premature to conclude that human activities–and particularly greenhouse gas emissions that cause global warming–have already had a detectable impact on Atlantic hurricane activity. ”

      But then goes on: ” Anthropogenic warming by the end of the 21st century will likely cause hurricanes globally to be more intense on average (by 2 to 11% according to model projections for an IPCC A1B scenario). This change would imply an even larger percentage increase in the destructive potential per storm, assuming no reduction in storm size. There are better than even odds that anthropogenic warming over the next century will lead to an increase in the numbers of very intense hurricanes in some basins.”

  • PithHelmut

    The state of emergency the world is in, it would not be inappropriate to present at least two articles per day related to climate change. People are not thinking about climate change because they rarely hear the media mention it.  WBUR never mentioned climate change throughout the entire weekend prior to Sandy’s strike.  Check the number of times WBUR has produced an article on climate change.  While you’re there also check how many times WBUR presented an article about our other candidates for president.  Not sure if WBUR  is affiliated with WGBH but David Koch is on the board of trustees for WGBH.  Oil people and bankers. They go to great pains to maintain the illusion that we cannot get off oil.  We have a collusive media.

Hosts Meghna Chakrabarti and Anthony Brooks introduce us to newsmakers, big thinkers and artists and bring us stories of relevance to Bostonians here and around the region. Live every weekday at 3.

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