Is Sandy the Face of Climate Change?

Some politicians think it's a wake-up call; scientists aren't ready to say
By Kevin Spak,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 30, 2012 3:52 PM CDT
Is Sandy the Face of Climate Change?
This NOAA satellite image taken Oct. 29 shows Hurricane Sandy off the Mid-Atlantic coastline.   (AP Photo/NOAA)

The devastation wrought by Hurricane Sandy has plenty of people asking: Did climate change do this? New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo seemed to hint as much in his speech today, saying there was a "new reality" in weather patterns. "We have a 100-year flood every two years now," he noted, according to Politico. Meghan McCain was more blunt: "So are we still going to go with climate change not being real fellow Republicans?" she asked in a Tweet spotted by the Hill. But the actual science isn't yet definitive.

Scientists have just begun figuring out how to link climate change to individual weather events, and thanks to a lack of data from the pre-satellite era, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change says it has a "low confidence" when it comes to hurricanes, NPR explains. Research is emerging, however—one report last month showed that higher temperatures correlated strongly to stronger storms. And Brad Plumer at the Washington Post points out that scientists definitely agree that sea levels are rising, making our cities more vulnerable to flooding. "Hurricane Sandy is, unfortunately, a grim reminder of that." (Read more climate change stories.)

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