Impacts of Global Warming

Hurricane Sandy



SANDY was a tropical cyclone that severely affected the Mid-Atlantic and Northeastern US in late October. It was the largest Atlantic hurricane on record, with winds spanning 1,100 miles (1,800 km)... (see Wikipedia)

Global warming makes extreme events like Sandy more probable. The Atlantic ocean gulf current is warmer, giving more energy to the weather system. The sea level is getting higher, making flooding worse. The anomalous jet stream configuration that lead to the "left turn" of Sandy smack into shore is an example of the destabilization of the jet stream that has been qualitatively linked to global warming heating up the arctic, see HERE.

In the diagram below, the purple line is the jet stream with the anomalous shape, the blue dotted line is a blocking pattern, and the red circle is Sandy getting ready to turn left and devastate New Jersey and New York.

None of this means that global warming "caused" Sandy. However global warming can make naturally occurring events more extreme. It also does not mean that another event exactly like Sandy will occur. The point is that there are many ways for extreme events to occur, and global warming makes it more probable that extreme events will be worse when they occur. For example, if the jet stream had not been anomalous (a possible feature of global warming), Sandy might not have turned left at all.

HERE is a lecture by Dr. Jennifer Francis, Rutgers U. documenting the connection between the loss of Arctic ice due to global warming, slower moving jet streams with larger meandering amplitudes, and increases in extreme weather.






Dash, J. (2013). Hurricane Sandy. Retrieved from