The Week Ahead: Coastal Surges Among Threats Posed by Hurricane Sandy


In addition to heavy rain, high winds, flooding, and tornadoes, coastal surges—which climate experts say are being exacerbated by sea-level rise due to global warming—are among the threats the East Coast faces from Hurricane Sandy in the week ahead.

According to an Oct. 26 New York Timesarticle, forecasters are expecting Sandy’s path of damage to be much wider than that left by Hurricane Irene in 2011. Furthermore, forecasters say that wherever the storm ends up meeting the coast, the tidal surges will likely be bigger than Irene’s.

As detailed in a blog published in World Climate Change Reportin February on sea-level rise and actions being taken by New York and other states, Hurricane Irene produced maximum storm surge values at stations from New York City to Woods Hole, Mass., at between three and five feet.

Furthermore, researchers, using New York City as a case study, found that climate change could increase the rate of 100-year and 500-year floods. A 100-year storm can produce a flood surge of up to 2 meters (6+ feet), according to researchers. Manhattan's seawalls stand at 1.5 meters (4' 11").

Sea-Level Rise on West Coast  

A report by the National Research Council that found the sea level south of California's Cape Mendocino is falling while the level northward into Oregon and Washington is rising will be the topic of a workshop Nov. 1 in Everett, Wash., hosted by the Washington Department of Ecology. The report,Sea Level Rise for the Coasts of California, Washington and Oregon: Past, Present and Future, found that north coast sea levels are rising 1.5  to 3 millimeters annually. The workshop will explore how the NRC findings can be used to evaluate local risk and vulnerability and how to incorporate sea-level rise into policies and planning.

Arctic Conditions

The Arctic Report Card, including conditions during this past summer, will be among topics discussed during an Interagency Forum on Climate Change Impacts & AdaptationOct. 30 in Washington, D.C. An Aug. 27 articlecovers remarks made by National Snow and Ice Data Center scientist Walt Meier on models that predict the Arctic will be free of ice in the summer by 2050 to 2070, but says NSIDC observations show that the long-term trend is for faster melting.

"Climate Change: The Arctic as an Emerging Market" will be the topic of a panel discussionOct. 29 hosted by Advancing Science, Serving Society in Washington, D.C. Panelists include Julienne Stroeve, senior scientist with the National Snow and Ice Data Center, and Jed Hamilton, senior Arctic consultant for ExxonMobil.