October 29, 2012

Frankenstorm is the right name


What would you call an "unprecedented and bizarre" storm that is:
  • The "largest hurricane in Atlantic history measured by diameter of gale force winds (1,040mi)" [Capital Weather Gang]
  • "A Storm Like No Other" [National Weather Service via AP]. NWS"I cannot recall ever seeing model forecasts of such an expansive areal wind field with values so high for so long a time. We are breaking new ground here."
  • "Transitioning from a warm-core (ocean-powered) hurricane into an extra-tropical low pressure system, a classic Nor'easter, fed by powerful temperature extremes and swirling jet stream winds aloft to amplify and focus the storm's fury" [meteorologist Paul Douglas]
  • Being fueled in part by "ocean temperatures along the Northeast U.S. coast about 5°F above average," so "there will be an unusually large amount of water vapor available to make heavy rain" [former Hurricane Hunter Jeff Masters]
  • Also being driven by a high pressure blocking pattern near Greenland "forecast to be three standard deviations from the average" [Climate Central and CWG]
  • "Stitched together from some spooky combination of the natural and the unnatural." [Bill McKibben]
McKibben explains "Our relationship to the world around us is shifting as fast as that world is shifting.'Frankenstorm' is the right name for Sandy, and indeed for many other storms and droughts and heat waves now."
Humans are changing the climate in dangerous and unprecedented ways. 

Dr. Kevin Trenberth, former head of the Climate Analysis Section at the U.S. National Center for Atmospheric Research, explained in a must-read 2012 review article in Climatic Change:
The answer to the oft-asked question of whether an event is caused by climate change is that it is the wrong question. All weather events are affected by climate change because the environment in which they occur is warmer and moister than it used to be….
http://bit.ly/S6eWYc
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