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Superstorm Sandy A Series of Unfortunate Events?

TitleSuperstorm Sandy A Series of Unfortunate Events?
Publication TypeManual Entry
Year of Publication2013
AuthorsGreene, Charles H., Jennifer A. Francis, and Bruce C. Monger
Type of ArticleJournal Article
Citation Key1310


"Now, some might argue that this was just a series of unfortunate events resulting from the coincidence of many rare and/or unprecedented acts of nature. For those convinced that it is very difficult or impossible to attribute the occurrence of any single extreme weather event to anthropogenic climate change, this argument is, indeed, valid. However, there is increasing evidence that the loss of summertime Arctic sea ice due to greenhouse warming stacks the deck in favor of (1) larger amplitude meanders in the jet stream, (2) more frequent invasions of Arctic air masses into the middle latitudes, and (3) more frequent blocking events of the kind that steered Sandy to the west (Francis and Vavrus, 2012; Greene, 2012; Greene and Monger, 2012; Liu et al., 2012). Although a direct causal link has not been established between the atmospheric phenomena observed in late October 2012 and the record-breaking sea-ice loss observed during the preceding summer months, all of the observations are consistent with such an interpretation. Therefore, if one accepts this evidence and line of reasoning, and also takes into account the record loss of Arctic sea ice this past September, then perhaps the likelihood of greenhouse warming playing a significant role in Sandy’s evolution as an extra-tropical superstorm is at least as plausible as the idea that this storm was simply a freak of nature."