Heads up: Top comment and controversy
Did climate change cause Hurricane Sandy?
30 October 2012 09:09 AM
Slate asks scientists how much climate change has to do with the so-called "Frankenstorm". The response is rightly cautious and headline-wary, but not all that comforting.
Kerry Emanuel, an MIT climate scientist, said that his profession has little knowledge of hybrid storms, so couldn't know for certain how they interact with changing global temperatures. However, "one very definite prediction of climate research" is that in future storms will rain more because, as coastal waters warm up, there's more water vapour in the atmosphere.
Kevin Trenberth of the National Center for Atmospheric Research says hurricanes have a "large chance element" - but as the ocean gets warmer and moister, there is more fuel for storms. "There are higher sea temperatures now, more moisture in the atmosphere, and there is a risk that the storm will be more intense and possibly a little larger."