Climate Changes and Disasters

An article re recent World Bank report:  Weather-Related Loss & Damage Rising as Climate Warms.

Another H. Sandy Is Possible Say Geologists

One more set of concerns, this time from geologists. Geologists: Sandy could happen again. Some excerpts:

Sandy’s storm surge hit the coast at high tide, but storm and tidal conditions were not the only cause of the devastation. Seawaters off New York’s coast have risen sixteen inches since 1778, the year of New York City’s first major recorded storm. Geologists say that due to rising sea levels, smaller storms could produce significant flooding.

Almost a year after Hurricane Sandy, parts of New York and New Jersey are still recovering from billions of dollars in flood damage. Tufts University geologist Andrew Kemp sees the possibility of damage from storms smaller than Sandy in the future.

“Rising sea levels exacerbate flooding,” says Kemp. “As sea level rises, smaller and weaker storms will cause flood damage.”
An assistant professor in Tufts’ Department of Earth and Ocean Sciences, Kemp co-authored a study on sea-level change close
to New York that was published recently in the Journal of Quaternary Science.

Hurricane Sandy in Perspective – updates


Council on Foreign Relations, How Likely Was Hurricane Sandy.  Some really chilling scientific research and dire warnings about the likely frequency of future hurricanes with the same path.

“[Scientists are] telling us we shouldn’t be surprised that this 900-mile-wide monster marched up the East Coast this week paralyzing cities and claiming scores of lives…. In a paper published by Nature in February, [Oppenheimer] and three colleagues concluded that the ‘storm of the century’ would become the storm of ‘every twenty years or less.’

Hurricane Sandy in perspective, in HSWired, November 2,2012. Excellent article that provides a wealth of historic and scientific knowledge useful to our current efforts on determining H. Sandy’s place in context of  U.S. disaster experience. Comments from Dr. Roger Pielke, Jr. (Univ. of CO).

Hurricane Sandy has left death and destruction in its path, and it broke a few records, but there were worse hurricanes; since 1900, 242 hurricanes have hit the United States; if Sandy causes $20 billion in damage, in 2012 dollars, it would rank as the seventeenth most damaging hurricane or tropical storm out of these 242; the Great Miami Hurricane of 1926 tops the list; Hurricane Katrina ranks fourth; from August 1954 through August 1955, the East Coast saw three different storms make landfall — Carol, Hazel, and Diane; each, in 2012, would have caused about twice as much damage as Sandy


Some sensible advice from an experienced disaster researcher at Brookings, Nov. 2.:  Feds, States, Cities — The All of the Above Disaster Response


Insightful article from a Columbia profession in CNN today. New York’s Neglected Infrastruture Fails.

It should come as no surprise to anyone that New York’s infrastructure wasn’t up to Hurricane Sandy.  What happened in New York was not all that different than what’s

happened in other places hit by freakish weather events — the infrastructure wasn’t robust enough to withstand nature. It is not the first time it’s happened here, and it won’t be the last.

The problems in New York stem from many factors. For a start, infrastructure investment here is no more a priority than it is in other places across the country:

It’s simply not something that voters want badly. When given a choice between investing in schools, health and housing or investing in sewers, tunnels or roads, the

latter will always lose out. And that’s not just the view of the politicians, but also of the constituents who keep them in office.



Science vs. Politics — update

Governor Jindal Tours Sand Berms Protecting Lo...

Image by lagohsep via Flickr

Several weeks ago, we highlighted the issue of politicians wanting a “solution” implemented, when the scientists did not support that solution.  Now that the use of sand berms off the coast of LA has been reviewed by experts on the presidential commission,  the scientists were vidicated. Not a surprise. Tragically, $220 million  were spent/wasted owing to the persistent pressure from Gov. Jindal. The money came from BP, but that amount used elsewhere no doubt could have been applied more productively.  See Sand islands off Louisiana stopped little oil in gulf spill, commission finds; Wash. Post, Dec. 16, 2010.

One of the most controversial tactics used against this summer’s Gulf of Mexico oil spill – the construction of large sand islands off the Louisiana coast – managed to stop only a “minuscule” amount of oil, according to a draft report from a presidential commission.