Hurricane Sandy's huge size: freak of nature or climate change?

By: Dr. Jeff Masters , 1:10 PM GMT on November 13, 2012

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Hurricane Sandy was truly astounding in its size and power. At its peak size, twenty hours before landfall, Sandy had tropical storm-force winds that covered an area nearly one-fifth the area of the contiguous United States. Since detailed records of hurricane size began in 1988, only one tropical storm (Olga of 2001) has had a larger area of tropical storm-force winds, and no hurricanes has. Sandy's area of ocean with twelve-foot seas peaked at 1.4 million square miles--nearly one-half the area of the contiguous United States, or 1% of Earth's total ocean area. Most incredibly, ten hours before landfall (9:30 am EDT October 30), the total energy of Sandy's winds of tropical storm-force and higher peaked at 329 terajoules--the highest value for any Atlantic hurricane since at least 1969. This is 2.7 times higher than Katrina's peak energy, and is equivalent to five Hiroshima-sized atomic bombs. At landfall, Sandy's tropical storm-force winds spanned 943 miles of the the U.S. coast. No hurricane on record has been wider; the previous record holder was Hurricane Igor of 2010, which was 863 miles in diameter. Sandy's huge size prompted high wind warnings to be posted from Chicago to Eastern Maine, and from Michigan's Upper Peninsula to Florida's Lake Okeechobee--an area home to 120 million people. Sandy's winds simultaneously caused damage to buildings on the shores of Lake Michigan at Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore, and toppled power lines in Nova Scotia, Canada--locations 1200 miles apart!

Largest Atlantic tropical cyclones for area covered by tropical storm-force winds:

Olga, 2001: 780,000 square miles
Sandy, 2012: 560,000 square miles
Lili, 1996: 550,000 square miles
Igor, 2010: 550,000 square miles
Karl, 2004: 430,000 square miles



Figure 1. Hurricane Sandy’s winds (top), on October 28, 2012, when Sandy was a Category 1 hurricane with top winds of 75 mph (this ocean surface wind data is from a radar scatterometer on the Indian Space Research Organization’s (ISRO) Oceansat-2.) Hurricane Katrina’s winds (bottom) on August 28, 2005, when Katrina was a Category 5 hurricane with top winds of 175 mph (data taken by a radar scatterometer on NASA’s defunct QuickSCAT satellite.) In both maps, wind speeds above 65 kilometers (40 miles) per hour are yellow; above 80 kph (50 mph) are orange; and above 95 kph (60 mph) are dark red. The most noticeable difference is the extent of the strong wind fields. For Katrina, winds over 65 kilometers per hour stretched about 500 kilometers (300 miles) from edge to edge. For Sandy, winds of that intensity spanned an region of ocean three times as great--1,500 kilometers (900 miles). Katrina was able to generate a record-height storm surge over a small area of the Mississippi coast. Sandy generated a lower but highly destructive storm surge over a much larger area, due to the storm's weaker winds but much larger size. Image credit: NASA.

How did Sandy get so big?
We understand fairly well what controls the peak strength of a hurricane's winds, but have a poor understanding of why some hurricanes get large and others stay small. A number of factors probably worked together to create a "prefect storm" situation that allowed Sandy to grow so large, and we also must acknowledge that climate change could have played a role. Here are some possible reasons why Sandy grew so large:

1) Initial size of the disturbance that became Sandy was large
Sandy formed from an African tropical wave that interacted with a large area of low pressure that covered most of the Central Caribbean. Rotunno and Emanuel (1987) found that hurricanes that form from large initial tropical disturbances like Sandy did tend to end up large in size.


Figure 2. The initial disturbance that spawned Sandy, seen here on October 20, 2012, was quite large.

2) High relative humidity in Sandy's genesis region
The amount of moisture in the atmosphere may play an important role in how large a hurricane gets (Hill and Lackmann, 2009.) Sandy was spawned in the Caribbean in a region where the relative humidity was near 70%. This is the highest humidity we saw during 2012 during the formation of any Atlantic hurricane.

3) Passage over Cuba
Sandy struck Cuba as an intensifying Category 2 hurricane with 110 mph winds. While the core of the storm was over Cuba, it was cut off from the warm ocean waters surrounding Cuba. Most of Sandy's large circulation was still over the ocean, though, and the energy the storm was able to extract from the ocean went into intensifying the spiral bands over water. When Sandy's core re-emerged over water, the hurricane now had spiral bands with heavier thunderstorm activity as a result of the extra energy pumped into the outer portion of the storm during the eye's passage over land. This extra energy in the outer portions of Sandy may have enabled it to expand in size later.

4) Interaction with a trough of low pressure over the Bahamas
As Sandy passed through the Bahamas on October 25, the storm encountered strong upper-level winds associated with a trough of low pressure to the west. These winds created high wind shear that helped weaken Sandy and destroy the eyewall. However, Sandy compensated by spreading out its tropical storm-force winds over a much wider area. Between 15 and 21 UTC on October 25, Sandy's area of tropical storm-force winds increased by more than a factor of two.

5) Leveraging of the Earth's spin
As storms move towards Earth's poles, they acquire more spin, since Earth's rotation works to put more vertical spin into the atmosphere the closer one gets to the pole. This extra spin helps storms grow larger, and we commonly see hurricanes grow in size as they move northwards.

6) Interaction with a trough of low pressure at landfall
As Sandy approached landfall in New Jersey, it encountered an extratropical low pressure system to its west. This extratropical storm began pumping cold air aloft into the hurricane, which converted Sandy into an extratropical low pressure system, or "Nor'easter". The nature of extratropical storms is to have a much larger area with strong winds than a hurricane does, since extratropical storms derive their energy from the atmosphere along a frontal boundary that is typically many hundreds of miles long. Thus, as Sandy made landfall, the hurricane's strongest winds spread out over a larger area, causing damage from Indiana to Nova Scotia.

Are we likely to see more such storms in the future?
Global warming theory (Emanuel, 2005) predicts that a 2°C (3.6°F) increase in ocean temperatures should cause an increase in the peak winds of the strongest hurricanes of about about 10%. Furthermore, warmer ocean temperatures are expected to cause hurricanes to dump 20% more rain in their cores by the year 2100, according to computer modeling studies (Knutson et al., 2010). However, there has been no published work describing how hurricane size may change with warmer oceans in a future climate. We've seen an unusual number of Atlantic hurricanes with large size in recent years, but we currently have no theoretical or computer modeling simulations that can explain why this is so, or if we might see more storms like this in the future. However, we've seen significant and unprecedented changes to our atmosphere in recent decades, due to our emissions of heat-trapping gases like carbon dioxide. The laws of physics demand that the atmosphere must respond. Atmospheric circulation patterns that control extreme weather events must change, and we should expect extreme storms to change in character, frequency, and intensity as a result--and not always in the ways our computer models may predict. We have pushed our climate system to a fundamentally new, higher-energy state where more heat and moisture is available to power stronger storms, and we should be concerned about the possibility that Hurricane Sandy's freak size and power were partially due to human-caused climate change.

References
Emanuel, K. (2005). Increasing destructiveness of tropical cyclones over the past 30 years. Nature, 436(7051), 686-688.

Hill, Kevin A., and Gary M. Lackmann (2009), "Influence of environmental humidity on tropical cyclone size," Monthly Weather Review 137.10 (2009): 3294-3315.

Knutson, T. R., McBride, J. L., Chan, J., Emanuel, K., Holland, G., Landsea, C., ... & Sugi, M. (2010). Tropical cyclones and climate change. Nature Geoscience, 3(3), 157-163.

Rotunno, R., & Emanuel, K. A. (1987). An air–sea interaction theory for tropical cyclones. Part II: Evolutionary study using a nonhydrostatic axisymmetric numerical model. J. Atmos. Sci, 44(3), 542-561.

The Atlantic is quiet, but a Nor'easter expected next week
The Atlantic is quiet, with no threat areas to discuss. An area of low pressure is predicted to develop just north of Bermuda on Wednesday, and the GFS model predicts that this low could become a subtropical cyclone as moves north-northeastwards out to sea late in the week.

The long-range models are in increasing agreement that a Nor'easter will develop near the North Carolina coast on Sunday, then move north to northeastwards early next week. High winds, heavy rain, and coastal flooding could affect the mid-Atlantic coast and New England coasts next Monday and Tuesday due to this storm, but it appears likely that the Nor'easter will stay farther out to sea than the last Nor'easter and have less of an impact on the region devastated by Sandy. Ocean temperatures off the coast of North Carolina were cooled by about 4°F (2.2°C) due to the churning action of Hurricane Sandy's winds, but are still warm enough at 22 - 24°C to potentially allow the Nor'easter to acquire some subtropical characteristics. I doubt the storm would be able to become a named subtropical storm, but it could have an unusual amount of heavy rain if it does become partially tropical. The Nor'easter is still a long ways in the future, and there is still a lot of uncertainty on where the storm might go.

Jeff Masters

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Quoting LurkyMcLurkerson:


Scientists know all about harmony, but I'm not so sure we can actually manage it.

More beer, maybe. For the audience, at least.

In seriousness, yeah, I never thought I'd see scientists putting out this level of collective shriek in my lifetime, as somebody who grew up in a family of them. That's noteworthy in itself, folks. It really is. Scientists -- scientists don't really shriek, on any reasonably large scale. We live by the caveat and the tempered statement.

--->EEEEEEEEEEEEEKKK!<---

I leave you all. G'night.
This is a really good post...Dont leave..sniffle..
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Member Since: July 17, 2009 Posts: 71 Comments: 26477
Quoting MontanaZephyr:


It would be interesting to see a study done summarizing the changing expectations of the degree of sea level rise. That is, it is the predictions that are the object of the study.

From my casual anecdotal point of view, it seems like the rate of change of worsening expectation is itself increasing.

I imagine that will make its exponential leap off the north end of the chart the day that the caps slide off into the sea, and all scientists shriek together in an odd form of harmony.



Scientists know all about harmony, but I'm not so sure we can actually manage it.

More beer, maybe. For the audience, at least.

In seriousness, yeah, I never thought I'd see scientists putting out this level of collective shriek in my lifetime, as somebody who grew up in a family of them. That's noteworthy in itself, folks. It really is. Scientists -- scientists don't really shriek, on any reasonably large scale. We live by the caveat and the tempered statement.

--->EEEEEEEEEEEEEKKK!<---

I leave you all. G'night.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
708. vis0
44. LargoFl
3:37 PM GMT on November 13, 2012


+3



















I have a huge question..im asking
with the fed govt 14 trillion dollars in the hole or more..WHERE is THIS
money going to come from?.............Governor Cuomo To Seek $30
Billion In Federal Aid To Rebuild New York After Superstorm Sandy


RE: Ya know dose guys up the street that make & use phoney 5s 10 20s till their caught, well same thing except the Treasury tells official don't CATCH these. aka catch22B. Were there is a will there is a Bill or vice versa. -vis0





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Quoting MontanaZephyr:


It would be interesting to see a study done summarizing the changing expectations of the degree of sea level rise. That is, it is the predictions that are the object of the study.

From my casual anecdotal point of view, it seems like the rate of change of worsening expectation is itself increasing.

I imagine that will make its exponential leap off the north end of the chart the day that the caps slide off into the sea, and all scientists shriek together in an odd form of harmony.

yes i agree..from what im reading..sea level rise has increased and its faster since just the 1970's..who knows what it will be like just at the end of This decade..whew..scary times are coming indeed..if folks think the economic times are bad now..just wait..all our ports etc..all our coastal cities where most of the trade happens..gone..in a way im glad im old..10 years i'll be poof too hopefully lol..i wont be here to see this happening
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Quoting LargoFl:
ok I think ive posted enough..the biggest threat we face and our kids face..IS..sea level rise, who knows or cares if it IS..golbal warming or not..the scientific evidence is in..the sea IS rising and faster than thought....and in 50 years you young people in here living along the coasts will actually see the serious effects of this rise...I probably wont be around by then but you young folks will be AND even worse..YOUR kids in the future will be seeing a very different US coastline than we here today see...me myself, im not too thrilled with the future times..looks to be alot of hardship coming in the decades to come huh..gee..forget the cash flow problems of today we are facing..a far more dangerous thing is coming down the pike by centuries end


I certainly agree with Neo, above (stupid people), and wonder if the presence of same is not more of a threat to the human race than rising seas. With the sea, well, you can get above the water line. But with stupid people, you can only wait for Saint Darwin to act, and gosh those saint guys are slow sometimes.

But stupid and worse, intentionally ignorant people are everywhere. There seems to be no escape!
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Quoting overwash12:
So,All the storms throughout history that raked the Eastcoast of the U.S.(and there have been some real doosies) were just natural weather patterns. Now they are all attributed to Climate Change! Interesting!


Individual storms then, now, and in the future will be created/steered/dissipated by weather patterns. This has not changed. Just like how at any given moment, sea level on the beach is largely a function of being in a trough or a crest of a wave.

Climate change impacts the frequency and intensity of these events, as averaged over decadal or longer timescales. It is trend on top of noise. With the beach example, it's the average sea level of many many waves. Your comments in an attempt to sound sarcastic and witty were actually not grounded in much actual scientific evidence or discussion.
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Scientific American magazine

If extreme weather events seem to you to be on the rise, your powers of observation are accurate. Scientific American's latest eBook, Storm Warnings: Climate Change and Extreme Weather, gives readers the tools to better understand what is driving climate change, what might be in store in the coming decades and how we can begin to reverse the detrimental effects that human activity is having on Earth's climate systems.
----

For November, we turn our attention to our immediate environment. Hurricanes. Blizzards. Flooding. Drought. If extreme weather events like these seem to be on the rise, your powers of observation are accurate. The first three-quarters of 2012 brought the worst European winter in 25 years, massive flooding in Australia, Brazil and China, and a deepening drought in the U.S. affecting more than 50 percent of the country. And then came the superstorm Sandy late last month, inflicting billions of dollars of damage to the Northeast. The likelihood of such extreme weather events is increasingly being tied to anthropogenic -- or manmade, mostly through overproduction of carbon dioxide -- global warming. It's no longer an abstract idea; it's being experienced directly and locally, on nearly every level.


http://blogs.scientificamerican.com/at-scientific -american/2012/11/13/storm-warnings-climate-change -and-extreme-weather-sas-latest-e-book/
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Quoting LargoFl:
Rising sea level is one of the most threatening impacts of climate change in Florida. Satellite observations show that global sea level rise is accelerating. By 2100, sea level rise could well exceed 3 feet if greenhouse gas emissions continue unabated and a 6 foot rise is possible. The higher end of the estimates could be realized if the Greenland and West Antarctica ice sheets break up more rapidly. This threatens to submerge Florida's coastal communities and economies since roughly 9 percent of the state is within 5 feet of the existing sea level. Rising sea level also threatens the beaches, wetlands, and mangrove forests that surround the state. Some of the small islands of the Florida Keys could completely disappear due to rising sea levels. Inland ecosystems will also suffer as salt water intrusion into the Everglades or up rivers impacts freshwater plants and animals. Critical habitats for fish and birds, as well as endangered species like the key deer, American alligator and Florida panther, will be severely reduced and could disappear altogether.
Quoting LargoFl:
Thanks Gro..from what im reading lately most scientists now agree the sea levels are going to rise, I have been going from coastal city to coastal city all along the USA coastline, and the story is the same..the leaders in each coastal city is now preparing for a 2 to 6 foot rise in the sea levels..its real now, no arguing anymore..its already happening and we along the coastlines need to prepare for it


It would be interesting to see a study done summarizing the changing expectations of the degree of sea level rise. That is, it is the predictions that are the object of the study.

From my casual anecdotal point of view, it seems like the rate of change of worsening expectation is itself increasing.

I imagine that will make its exponential leap off the north end of the chart the day that the caps slide off into the sea, and all scientists shriek together in an odd form of harmony.

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Sigh.

Little boxes on the hillside,
Little boxes made of ticky tacky,
Little boxes on the hillside,
Little boxes all the same...

(Look, I was _ordered_ to drink beer somewhere above in this thread, what?)
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Quoting ncstorm:


You got it..

now head to the table with all the cherry flavored koolaid and ask your question again..be sure to drink it fast without thinking..
Let me put on my Rose colored glasses first!LOL
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seems like the weather has calmed down some today.................
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you see now..its useless geez
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Quoting overwash12:
So,All the storms throughout history that raked the Eastcoast of the U.S.(and there have been some real doosies) were just natural weather patterns. Now they are all attributed to Climate Change! Interesting!


You got it..

now head to the table with all the cherry flavored koolaid and ask your question again..be sure to drink it fast without thinking..
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Quoting ncstorm:
Largo,

I was just at my NC beach and can assure you,

it's a beautiful day, the beaches are open and people are having a wonderful time. Wilmington, as you know, means "friendship".
yes same here..its 81 degree's and sunny now..but as the years go by..this will change im sure..well im 40 feet above sea level..if i can live that long..i'll have oceanfront property? LOL
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So,All the storms throughout history that raked the Eastcoast of the U.S.(and there have been some real doosies) were just natural weather patterns. Now they are all attributed to Climate Change! Interesting!
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695. vis0

Quoting Neapolitan:
What does fairness have to do with anything? And where did you see anyone trying to use Sandy's size as evidence in support of AGW? Dr. Masters wrote an entirely truthful and logical statement:

"...we've seen significant and unprecedented changes to our atmosphere in recent decades, due to our emissions of heat-trapping gases like carbon dioxide. The laws of physics demand that the atmosphere must respond."

There you have it, in language so simple even a third-grader could understand it, no?

The more than 3.4 million tons of fossil fuel CO2 we humans pump into the environment each and every hour has consequences. At least part of Sandy's size, ferocity, or path may be one of those consequences. It's premature to state with certainty how much AGW influenced Sandy, but it's premature--and utterly illogical--to claim that it didn't affect it at all.
==========================
Agreeing what/how you state it.
Yet instead of Global Warming meaning mother nature will respond with a nicely understandable package of over heating, which could easily be counteracted.
 i prefer "Global climate Schizo", in that its more like Mother-in-Law Nature (no offense just using artistic lic. to present with colour a theory) trying to balance an unnatural sequence of events (man made pollutants as oppose to natural pollutant as Forest Fires or Radon ages). In doing so it will not be a predictable consent warming when we add the long term Sun/Galctic/Cluster/Universal cycles. It'll be more like  20 yrs land is hotter than recent averages but oceans are cooler then certain year where the Southern Hemisphere is breaking cold records as N. hemisphere is melting then 3 yrs of too dry, then 9 years of too much rain over one continent but not enough on the others. Since pollutants from man are not following a natural cycle, mother nature-in-law will ditto it back in the same manner but with her infamous patience of century long ebbs n flows.

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ok I think ive posted enough..the biggest threat we face and our kids face..IS..sea level rise, who knows or cares if it IS..golbal warming or not..the scientific evidence is in..the sea IS rising and faster than thought....and in 50 years you young people in here living along the coasts will actually see the serious effects of this rise...I probably wont be around by then but you young folks will be AND even worse..YOUR kids in the future will be seeing a very different US coastline than we here today see...me myself, im not too thrilled with the future times..looks to be alot of hardship coming in the decades to come huh..gee..forget the cash flow problems of today we are facing..a far more dangerous thing is coming down the pike by centuries end
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Largo,

I was just at my NC beach and can assure you,

it's a beautiful day, the beaches are open and people are having a wonderful time. Wilmington, as you know, means "friendship".
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While the Blog is slow....

I came across this WM story on project Censored

At a recent international symposium, scientists asserted that “manipulation of climate through modification of cirrus clouds is neither a hoax nor a conspiracy theory.” The only conspiracy surrounding geoengineering is that most governments and industry refuse to publicly admit what anyone can see in the sky or discover in peer-reviewed research. The Belfort Group has been working to raise public awareness about toxic aerial spraying, popularly referred to as chemtrails. However, scientists preferred the term ‘persistent contrails’ to describe the phenomenon, in an attempt to move the inquiry away from amateur conspiracy theories.

Link

It is number 9 on the list.
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Quoting LurkyMcLurkerson:


Just watch out for your fillings, ha. Unless you're building up a reserve for future speculative trade, of course. In which case you should invest in dentistry, too.



Well at least I'm ahead of the game and haven't needed any fillings yet, my teeth are all original. However I agree that all those ju-ju beans require some dental investment. At least a good solid supply of tooth paste, dental floss, and tooth brushes for the cellar for post-doom living.
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Quoting luvtogolf:


You really like putting people down.
Not all people; just intentionally stupid ones whose boneheaded decisions directly affect me and my family's safety. (It's my right and duty as an American to do so.)

At any rate, on the vast continuum of things, the few paragraphs I write in an internet forum ridiculing backwards-thinking Washington politicians is dwarfed into utter insignificance when compared with ranking policymaking members of the House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology who are wholly ignorant of science, uneducated on space, and deathly afraid of technology, and yet who are nonetheless in a position to radically alter the lives and lifestyles of both my grandchildren and yours. Wouldn't it be more appropriate for you to address them rather than me?
Member Since: November 8, 2009 Posts: 4 Comments: 13551
Geez..the more i read..the better IOWA sounds lol......Almost every resident in the Tampa Bay area lives very close to sea level. This fact puts Florida and the Tampa Bay area at the front lines of the fight against global warming, whether we want to be there or not. It is unnerving to look at a United States map of rise in sea level predictions, and notice that your home is in the area that is going to see the first and worst of the problem. In short, scientists predict that Pinellas county and the rest of the Tampa Bay area will be under water in less than 100 years.



The Florida coastline after a sea level rise of 6 meters.
Harold Wanless, chairman of the University of Miami's Department of Geological Sciences was interviewed by Fox News and said that a three foot rise in sea level is going to cause problems for Florida. He says that a four foot rise, "becomes extremely difficult to live in South Florida, and [at] five feet probably impossible."

This may sound far off and unimportant, but the Florida coast is already seeing signs of sea level rise. Jeffrey Chanton, the John Widmer Winchester Professor of Oceanography Ph.D. at UNC,was quoted by World-Mysteries.com as saying that "Along the marshy Gulf Coast of Florida, the effects of sea level rise can be observed in the number of dead cabbage palms at the seaward edge of the salt marsh."
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If oceans continue to rise in the coming decades, the areas most likely to be under water are Pinellas, Monroe, Miami-Dade, Broward and Lee counties, said scientists who gathered Thursday for Florida Atlantic University's Sea Level Rise Summit.

Palm Beach County benefits from elevations that are about 2 feet higher than those lower-lying areas, said Jayantha Obeysekera, director of modeling at the South Florida Water Management District.

"Palm Beach is a little higher," Obeysekera said.

South Florida stands to sustain significant damage from rising sea levels, said Ben Strauss, chief operating officer of Climate Central in Princeton, N.J. Florida is home to nearly half of the 4.9 million Americans who live at elevations less than 4 feet above the high-tide line, he said.

Among the cities with the most residents living at those elevations: Hialeah, Pembroke Pines, Cape Coral, Miami Beach, Plantation, Miramar and Fort Lauderdale.

Many of those cities are well inland, reflecting the reality that properties near the Everglades can face a higher risk of flooding than oceanfront homes.

"The mental image most people have is mansions on the beach," Strauss said.

There was no debate among scientists that seas are rising. Gary Mitchum, an oceanographer at the University of South Florida, said sea levels rose less than 2 millimeters a year from 1950 to 1992. Since 1992, he said, seas have been rising more than 3 millimeters a year.

Scientists acknowledge that they can't predict how quickly sea levels will continue to rise, but they agreed that it will be decades before South Florida sees catastrophic flooding.

The Sea Level Rise Summit continues today.
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Quoting Jedkins01:


I don't have any ju-ju beans, I guess I better get on top of that...


Just watch out for your fillings, ha. Unless you're building up a reserve for future speculative trade, of course. In which case you should invest in dentistry, too.
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Quoting Grothar:


I guess we only have about 50 years to live in this house and then we will have to move. I was hoping we could stay here another 60 or 80 years, but it doesn't look good. I hate moving every 50 years.


And that will be your 5th or 6th move? LOL
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Quoting pottery:


The price of ju-ju beans is directly and inversely proportionate to the state of the Climate.
Price is through the roof right now.
Good thing I've got 846 tons stashed away.

Some nice showers down here over the w/e and continuing.
Looking at a decent area of convection way out in the Atl and wondering if it will make it all the way here.


I don't have any ju-ju beans, I guess I better get on top of that...
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see..every coastal state..the message is the same.........State legislators last summer ignored research that shows sea-level rise will accelerate its creep up North Carolina’s coastline this century.

This week, waves of science will say they were wrong.

Sea level was a hot topic – and North Carolina lawmakers a butt of jokes – as the Geological Society of America began its annual meeting in Charlotte on Sunday, days after Hurricane Sandy swamped New York and New Jersey.

Some researchers said the 39-inch rise a state science panel expects by year 2100 may be far too low. Other new studies say North Carolina is part of an Atlantic coast “hot spot” where seas are rising far faster than in the rest of the world.

The scientists also say there’s a lot they can’t predict.

“We’re going to have a meter of sea-level rise. I can’t tell you if it will be 50 years or 100 years from now,” said panel member Rob Young, who leads the Program for the Study of Developed Shorelines at Western Carolina University.

“We’re going to get to that meter whether it’s on a straight line into the future or in that dramatic uptick that the vast majority of scientists believe is happening.”

Atlantic coast sea level rise

Sea level along 600 miles of the Atlantic coast from Cape Hatteras to north of Boston has risen three to four times faster since 1990 than it has globally, says a U.S. Geological Survey study published in June. That alone is enough to add 8 to 11 inches to the global average this century.

“It turns out it’s the only area of acceleration presently going on along the coast of the United States,” said oceanographer Asbury Sallenger, who lead the project. The rate of rise farther south, in places like Charleston and Savannah, shows no such trend, he said.

Sea level varies widely depending on where it is measured, due to differences in land characteristics and ocean currents, water temperatures and salinity.

Sallenger traces the likely cause of the hot spot to a region of frigid Atlantic water south of Greenland that is warming, altering the flow of currents and the tilt of the sea surface.

Other studies support those findings. Sea level on the Atlantic coast has risen since the late 19th century at the fastest pace in 2,000 years, the University of Pennsylvania’s Benjamin Horton, Yale scientist Andrew Kemp and colleagues showed. East Carolina University geologist Stanley Riggs’ team found a similar trend in northeastern North Carolina.

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, in its latest report, predicted in 2007 that global sea level would rise no more than about 20 inches this century. But that didn’t include the unpredictable impact of massive, fast-melting ice sheets in Greenland and Antarctica.

Melting ice is “absolutely the key factor,” said Richard Peltier, director of the University of Toronto’s Centre for Global Change Science.

“I think we would all agree, even the most conservative IPCC persons, that the IPCC number is very conservative,” Peltier said, with some projections of about 59 inches. “It’s got nowhere to go but up, but by how much is a bit of a mug’s game.”

Legislators decide to delay

The science panel’s recommendation that North Carolina plan for much higher seas by year 2100 prompted a tsunami-size backlash in coastal counties.

An economic development group insisted the science was flawed, and said it would halt development on wide swaths of land already barely above sea level.

N.C. legislators first proposed a law that would allow calculations of future sea-level rise to be based only on past trends, not on scientific evidence of accelerated rise.

The final version, ratified in August, delays estimating future rates until 2016. It instructs the science panel to reassess whether sea level could fall or the rate of rise slow as well as speed up. It orders the state Coastal Resources Commission to consider “historical calculations” along with computer models of the future.

The 22,000-member geological society’s position is that human activities account for most of the global warming since the mid-1990s. On Sunday it honored author and climate activist Bill McKibben with its President’s Medal.

The rate of global sea level rise has increased since the early 1990s to about 3 millimeters a year, sharply higher than the 20th-century average of 1.7mm.

“What that tells you is that nothing is going to get better in the coast in the future, even without a (further) acceleration,” said Young, the Western Carolina University geologist.

Some scientists aren’t sure that trend will last.

Satellite data shows that the rate of acceleration is slowing, says University of Florida researcher Robert Dean. Studies show historic up-and-down cycles that fit such patterns.

“The question is whether the satellites are showing an oscillation or a new trend,” he said.

‘Sets the stage for a little Nor’easter’

Hurricane Sandy stayed well off the North Carolilna coast but still overwashed N.C. 12, which runs through the Outer Banks, in three places. Winter storms could turn those sites into new inlets, said Stan Riggs of East Carolina University.

Sandy “sets the stage for a little Nor’easter to just pummel the hell out of the Outer Banks this winter,” Riggs said. New openings in the islands could quickly expose the protected sounds behind them to much higher tides, threatening the communities on their shores.

Rising seas will only make storm surges higher, scientists say.

“The most obvious aspect of climate change to Hurricane Sandy is not necessarily that storms have gotten bigger or more intense,” said Sallenger, the Geological Survey scientist. “It’s that the seas are definitely rising – we can see it and measure it.”

Read more here: http://www.charlotteobserver.com/2012/11/04/364402 7/nc-coast-a-hot-spot-of-rising.html#storylink=cpy
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Quoting Grothar:


I guess we only have about 50 years to live in this house and then we will have to move. I was hoping we could stay here another 60 or 80 years, but it doesn't look good. I hate moving every 50 years.
yeah i hope you'll be ok,was talking to a lady i know down on indian rocks beach here..and she alrady is worried without me saying anything so im assuming coastal residents already know whats coming..good luck to all who will be affected by this..millions and millions of people whew..iowa is going to get real crowded someday huh
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Quoting Grothar:
It has been theorized that approximately 75,000 years ago, the human population was reduced to about 10,000 and probably an even less breeding population. They attribute this due to a cataclysmic climate change due to the Toba eruption in Indonesia.

In the past few years, geneticists have been able to confirm this sudden drop in the human population through the still ongoing "mapping" of our genetic variations. The genetic variation between a Swede and an Australian aborigine is closer than between the genetic variation in a close band of chimpanzees.

Through most of earth's history, climate variations have been enormous. In the past 80,000 years, we have lived in a relatively warm period with incidences of glaciation. It has allowed an enormous explosion of the human population.

Yes, the earth will most likely survive an adapt to even the most cataclysmic events. Many life forms will not.

I have been reading the blog for a number of days and not posting anything. I choose not to debate on most subjects for personal reasons. However, what I have inferred from most of the blogs, is that it is not the message we do not like, but the messengers.

Extreme views on either side do not help a debate and aid even less in deriving a solution.


So agreed on so much of this. All I would add is that I think it's the assumptions and the caricatures, to some degree -- we put each other in boxes and hate those boxes.

I have very strong opinions, clearly, and I'm never afraid to argue them -- I mean, some of the just objective stuff here is just, like, true.

I also don't assume that everybody who disagrees with my points is a jerk or a dupe. Some are, but then, some who _agree_ with my opinions undoubtedly are, too. That's not the point.

At some point, it's hearing each other and thinking and seeing where our disagreements lie -- without trying to just "win" -- that generally is a possible source of human strength, and can save our collective behinds in hard situations. I hope we can get good at it on the scale we need someday, and soon.
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Quoting Grothar:
Only weak messages need strong messengers.
Member Since: July 31, 2008 Posts: 0 Comments: 1320
Quoting Neapolitan:
How utterly depressing.

Denying climate change is definitely bad enough, but far worse is the wholesale denial of all things scientific by some (nearly every one members of one particular political party; in fact, it's become a de facto plank in that party's platform). And while these knuckle-dragging buffoons work on sending America back to the horse-and-buggy days, we fall further and further behind the rest of the industrialized world in terms of technology and education.

It's sickening. Members of the science ignorati such as Smith, Sensenbrenner, and Rohrabacher are an embarrassment to every thinking person who's ever lived.


You really like putting people down.
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Quoting LargoFl:
Broward county florida prepares for rising sea levels............wont post the whole article but here is an excerpt.............To the dismay of developers, the plan would impact future building plans, energy use, and green living to prepare for what scientists widely believe to be rising sea levels. By 2060, the commission said, residents in coastal communities could be swimming at their door steps.


I guess we only have about 50 years to live in this house and then we will have to move. I was hoping we could stay here another 60 or 80 years, but it doesn't look good. I hate moving every 50 years.
Member Since: July 17, 2009 Posts: 71 Comments: 26477
Quoting Neapolitan:
How utterly depressing.

Denying climate change is definitely bad enough, but far worse is the wholesale denial of all things scientific by some (nearly every one members of one particular political party; in fact, it's become a de facto plank in that party's platform). And while these knuckle-dragging buffoons work on sending America back to the horse-and-buggy days, we fall further and further behind the rest of the industrialized world in terms of technology and education.

It's sickening. Members of the science ignorati such as Smith, Sensenbrenner, and Rohrabacher are an embarrassment to every thinking person who's ever lived.


I keep telling you but not everyone is drinking the koolaid on the doom and gloom that alarmists are shouting from the mountain tops..Im a democrat and I dont believe in climate change..these events have happened in the past..show me 95 degrees next month in NY and hey, I might say you're right to be somewhat alarm..but to predict how the climate will be in 50 years when we can't even predict a 3 day accurate forecast just proves my point..Climate change is NOT a priority in my life as I see in some of the posts here..Having a job, putting food on my table, ensuring my 401K doesn't bottom out are just priority right now..and please tell me if off all of you are advocates for saving earth, then why are you on your computers all day burning fossil fuels which you claim is contributing to global warming? isn't that hypocritical to your cause? thats like a vegan who owns a meat packing plant..
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Quoting Grothar:
It has been theorized that approximately 75,000 years ago, the human population was reduced to about 10,000 and probably an even less breeding population. They attribute this due to a cataclysmic climate change due to the Toba eruption in Indonesia.

In the past few years, geneticists have been able to confirm this sudden drop in the human population through the still ongoing "mapping" of our genetic variations. The genetic variation between a Swede and an Australian aborigine is closer than between the genetic variation in a close band of chimpanzees.

Through most of earth's history, climate variations have been enormous. In the past 80,000 years, we have lived in a relatively warm period with incidences of glaciation. It has allowed an enormous explosion of the human population.

Yes, the earth will most likely survive an adapt to even the most cataclysmic events. Many life forms will not.

I have been reading the blog for a number of days and not posting anything. I choose not to debate on most subjects for personal reasons. However, what I have inferred from most of the blogs, is that it is not the message we do not like, but the messengers.

Extreme views on either side do not help a debate and aid even less in deriving a solution.
Thanks Gro..from what im reading lately most scientists now agree the sea levels are going to rise, I have been going from coastal city to coastal city all along the USA coastline, and the story is the same..the leaders in each coastal city is now preparing for a 2 to 6 foot rise in the sea levels..its real now, no arguing anymore..its already happening and we along the coastlines need to prepare for it
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from boston............
In Boston, officials have begun mapping low-lying areas and critical systems that are most likely to be inundated. The maps show that if sea levels rise just 2.5 feet, it could take little more than a Nor’easter to put much of the Back Bay, East Boston, South Boston, Chelsea, Cambridge, and elsewhere underwater, including much of Logan International Airport and the financial district.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
It has been theorized that approximately 75,000 years ago, the human population was reduced to about 10,000 and probably an even less breeding population. They attribute this due to a cataclysmic climate change due to the Toba eruption in Indonesia.

In the past few years, geneticists have been able to confirm this sudden drop in the human population through the still ongoing "mapping" of our genetic variations. The genetic variation between a Swede and an Australian aborigine is closer than between the genetic variation in a close band of chimpanzees.

Through most of earth's history, climate variations have been enormous. In the past 80,000 years, we have lived in a relatively warm period with incidences of glaciation. It has allowed an enormous explosion of the human population.

Yes, the earth will most likely survive an adapt to even the most cataclysmic events. Many life forms will not.

I have been reading the blog for a number of days and not posting anything. I choose not to debate on most subjects for personal reasons. However, what I have inferred from most of the blogs, is that it is not the message we do not like, but the messengers.

Extreme views on either side do not help a debate and aid even less in deriving a solution.
Member Since: July 17, 2009 Posts: 71 Comments: 26477
674. vis0
First thank you to Dr. Masters , weatherunderground staff, weather specialist & wxgeeks, as its such a joy to read your comments, even if i can't understand the scientific jargon ...i'm learning as i read.

Second thank you to volunteers and those posting REAL info and observations to help warn others of possible dangers.

Following not a known science(S) but on a science i call Galacsics. Its not directly on the physics of Sandy but if i'm correct as i state the ml-d assisted TS Sandy to become stronger as it neared or was over land (ml-d effect i explain in blogs) & influenced Sandy to become 2 times "stronger" that expected just 4-5 days before U.S. landfall as i posted on the blog to watch for 2 times stronger mb, when 960 was predicted.  2 times stronger for Sandy's size was ~ 940mb (like having a tight Hurricane Cat 2 go to a cat 4) and 36 hrs later that's what happened.

As to Sandy and other storms/weather extremes i still wish what i call an "ml-d" (please see my blog for more info on the weather influencing device i call "ml-d") could be tested by people of this (my) country (U.S. of A.). i've used the ml-d since ~1976 till December 2009 never for more than 2 continuous months and no more than ~6 months in TOTAL within a calendar year. Since January 2010 the ml-d is ON continuously with the only 3 variances.

 1 That its been moved. Was in Puerto Rico all of Jan 2010 ( rainfall records broken in Puerto Rico as the only top 20 rainfall within a calendar month where the precipitation was NOT from Tropical storm(s). Back in NYC from February 2010 till late April 2010. Back to Puerto Rico  from May 2010 through the 1st week of July 2010, again rainfall records broken by ~3 times and both times HIGHS east of Puerto Rico feed hot drier air towards EurAsia which i think went through a HEAT pattern. Ml-d went back to NYC (27th & 2nd Ave). For more see its Area Of Influence (AOI) at ipernity search for "ml-d" "senor equis",  then NYC or Puerto Rico.
 
 2. at times the ml-d is off and i detail when, within blogs i title "ml-d diary".
 
 3. Finally i state the ml-d influences weather via 5 "parental" or  "main"  properties that influence weather.
 lighting (charge),
 wind (horizontal motion/Coriolis),
 precip (moisture content) (air moisture content),
 cooling/warming (temperature differences),
 up/dwn flow (vertical motion)
 [2 of these i might describe differently on other blogs].
 
 Since January 2010 i've only had the ml-d influencing 3 of the 5 and only changed 1 of those 3 during MID-LATE 2010 (SPECIFIC DATE IS IN MY BLOG).
 
 As time passes, i am more certain that i will have to take the ml-d to another country to have it tested. Remember the ml-d is opening vortexes on the opposing side as to atomic energy as if acting like all crystal energy flow combinations at once. It is (will be) how one will one day time-twist through worm holes (natural/man made) to move through physical space  BUT as if one was only a "light form" wee the light form moves AHEAD of the physical entity (opposite of the physical dimension) .   It works through the sieves of (8 surrounding) absolute zero, though as to on a complex planet such as Earth, in it being carbon centered the energy it (ml-d) taps into to open PHYSICALLY unseen energies flows is that "static" (undiscovered deep underground micro lightning) which has a "footprint" of silicone. There just repeating more of what most think is nutty, as nutty as the airplane was when described to people even scientist of the 1800s or as nutty as when the PICTURE BOX aka TV was explained to the public before it was mass produced. i just hope this device can be reproduced by the next generation as it will be used to create wind Streams (MAN MADE micro jet streams nearer to ground level) to turn wind turbines and eventually create 60%, yes 60% of the worlds energy needs (today 2012 Hydro is most at ~15%), i bet China will figure this out before anyone else in the western culture. Sending Dr. Master the umbrella idea, hope wxu can use it to generate funds for charities. i'm taking a break from posting (post in ~ 12 languages only know ~3, my eyes are suffering from all this writing, but the ml-d is still ON i just hope it doesn't trigger a 4.0 - 5 .0 earthquake. How/Why please read my blog for info on ml-d triggering earthquakes ,peace
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Quoting goosegirl1:



We raise show rabbits, so we get just a fraction of the poo as we would from horses. Enough to power a small home, maybe :D


Well, you know, rabbit metabolism... ;)

I don't have horses now, alas -- pricey beasts, I trained them for years but now it's beyond what I can do until I find a way back to living in the country. But I suspect that two humans, three cats, two (frighteningly prolific, in this regard) dogs, and three chickens could at least power _something_. Though in truth, the composted chicken poop is nice fertilizer, too.

Honestly, if city permitting would allow, I'd be putting in a good composting toilet as it is, frankly. So the idea of pulling the energy out as electricity makes me happy. I'll have to keep an eye on that stuff, it's a great idea if it can be engineered well.
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and this..from Texas.............If anything, scientists are revising upwards their estimates of sea-level rise. Whereas the 2007 assessment of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change estimated between .18 and .59 meters (7 inches to 2 feet) of sea-level rise by 2100, recently published studies are now predicting 1 meter, or about three feet. That’s largely due to new research into the dynamics of ice-sheet flow, which was excluded from the IPCC report.

Last week, a team led by two scientists at the University of Arizona published research that for the first time looked at how rising seas are likely to impact every major coastal city (above 50,000 in population) in the lower 48 states. The headline from the report is that almost 10 percent of the land within 180 U.S. coastal cities could be swamped by century’s end. But that’s an average across the 48 states. Drill down a bit and the results are even more sobering for Texans.

If the experts are right – and oceans do rise by 1 meter or more – some Texas cities could eventually be swamped by the Gulf. At greatest risk are Port Arthur, Galveston and Corpus Christi, according to the University of Arizona paper.

Almost 50 percent of Port Arthur and Galveston are less than 1 meter, or three feet, above sea level. Roughly 90 percent of those cities’ land area is below two meters, or six feet. Corpus Christi, the third most vulnerable Texas city, has about 15 percent of its area below 1 meter. While other Texas cities fare much better, they still contain non-trivial pieces of land at risk.
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Quoting ILwthrfan:


Areas shaded in red would equate to a 1 meter rise in sea level.

yes florida will be hit hard, especially south florida...ages ago when i bought my house here..ifound out My house is 40 feet above sea level..so i bought if..figuring on storm suge..NOT sea level rise..back then it wasnt even a concern..but now..geez..its a real threat
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Quoting LargoFl:
Rising sea level is one of the most threatening impacts of climate change in Florida. Satellite observations show that global sea level rise is accelerating. By 2100, sea level rise could well exceed 3 feet if greenhouse gas emissions continue unabated and a 6 foot rise is possible. The higher end of the estimates could be realized if the Greenland and West Antarctica ice sheets break up more rapidly. This threatens to submerge Florida's coastal communities and economies since roughly 9 percent of the state is within 5 feet of the existing sea level. Rising sea level also threatens the beaches, wetlands, and mangrove forests that surround the state. Some of the small islands of the Florida Keys could completely disappear due to rising sea levels. Inland ecosystems will also suffer as salt water intrusion into the Everglades or up rivers impacts freshwater plants and animals. Critical habitats for fish and birds, as well as endangered species like the key deer, American alligator and Florida panther, will be severely reduced and could disappear altogether.


Areas shaded in red would equate to a 1 meter rise in sea level.

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Quoting CaicosRetiredSailor:
Climate Change Denier Likely to Lead Congressional Science Committee
By Christine Gorman November 14, 2012

Republican Party leaders in the House of Representatives will decide whether Representatives Lamar Smith of Texas, James Sensenbrenner of Wisconsin or Dana Rohrabacher of California will succeed Ralph Hall, also of Texas, as chair of the House Committee. Because of term limits, Hall cannot continue heading the group, which has jurisdiction over energy research, NASA, the National Weather Service and the National Science Foundation, among other things.


http://blogs.scientificamerican.com/observations/ 2012/11/14/climate-change-denier-likely-to-lead-co ngressional-science-committee/
How utterly depressing.

Denying climate change is definitely bad enough, but far worse is the wholesale denial of all things scientific by some (nearly every one members of one particular political party; in fact, it's become a de facto plank in that party's platform). And while these knuckle-dragging buffoons work on sending America back to the horse-and-buggy days, we fall further and further behind the rest of the industrialized world in terms of technology and education.

It's sickening. Members of the science ignorati such as Smith, Sensenbrenner, and Rohrabacher are an embarrassment to every thinking person who's ever lived.
Member Since: November 8, 2009 Posts: 4 Comments: 13551
all around the coastal USA..there are reports from scientists just like this one..................
Sea levels along the California coast are expected to rise up to 1 foot in 20 years, 2 feet by 2050 and as much as 5 1/2 feet by the end of the century, climbing slightly more than the global average and increasing the risk of flooding and storm damage, a new study says.
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Quoting LargoFl:
agreed..I can imagine..all this will take thousands of years..the dire effects I mean.but sometime in the future, those folks will be paying dearly, for what we today have done..yes I kinda agree with that..surely most everyone does


I worry immensely about the speed of change we're seeing. And that makes it -- I mean, the moral issue here kind of is the "doing our best by each other," to me. The science and fact issue is about how fast we're looking at this -- how much time do we have to change course, to the degree that this is about our behavior now?

I don't think we have much time left, and while I don't have kids, I worry about the kids I know -- heck, at this point, I worry about us adults' old age. But the kids I know -- I don't want to hand them a mess they can't possibly do anything about except suffer with it, to whatever degree that I can do anything at all.

On all sides of _honest_ debate here about what's going on and what to do about it, I think people are coming from a strong moral base. I think those of us trying to actually discuss it openly and honestly would all do well to remember that.

(The set of folks who refuse to be open to any ideas that conflict with what they've already decided is "true" -- that's a waste of time. I'm talking about people who think and care and are actively wrapping our heads around it all, regardless of what "sides" we're on at a given moment.)
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Broward county florida prepares for rising sea levels............wont post the whole article but here is an excerpt.............To the dismay of developers, the plan would impact future building plans, energy use, and green living to prepare for what scientists widely believe to be rising sea levels. By 2060, the commission said, residents in coastal communities could be swimming at their door steps.
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The squeaky wheel gets the grease.
Member Since: May 18, 2006 Posts: 10 Comments: 6061
Rising sea level is one of the most threatening impacts of climate change in Florida. Satellite observations show that global sea level rise is accelerating. By 2100, sea level rise could well exceed 3 feet if greenhouse gas emissions continue unabated and a 6 foot rise is possible. The higher end of the estimates could be realized if the Greenland and West Antarctica ice sheets break up more rapidly. This threatens to submerge Florida's coastal communities and economies since roughly 9 percent of the state is within 5 feet of the existing sea level. Rising sea level also threatens the beaches, wetlands, and mangrove forests that surround the state. Some of the small islands of the Florida Keys could completely disappear due to rising sea levels. Inland ecosystems will also suffer as salt water intrusion into the Everglades or up rivers impacts freshwater plants and animals. Critical habitats for fish and birds, as well as endangered species like the key deer, American alligator and Florida panther, will be severely reduced and could disappear altogether.
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Quoting LurkyMcLurkerson:


Agreed on the literal meaning, I think the way people use it is more as "global warming based at least to a large degree on humans burning fossil fuels." Which is a different point (and still real, though plenty of folks here disagree, I'm sure.)

Also, I think that humanity is... well, we've built this whole "human civilization" thingy during a time of real relative stability, climate wise, at least for the most part. I don't think that many people alive today even understand the scale of havoc from the Dust Bowl, much less the scale of havoc we can see from a shifting global climate. It's sort of a continuation of the "it can't happen here, and it won't be so bad" tendency, something that I think really is going to bite us as we go forward. Sometimes, it really _is_ that bad, and we're going to have to contend with that, but most of this country has never gone through a genuine catastrophe, really, and so it's, like, the stuff of a few overwrought disaster movies.

Meanwhile, the rest of the world -- at least much of it -- sure does know about how bad it can get, but we haven't been listening.

I just hope we start to really see it in dribs and drabs, and do our best by each other and future humans, _before_ the suffering gets vastly, vastly worse (and FU beyond all repair, moreso as we go).
agreed..I can imagine..all this will take thousands of years..the dire effects I mean.but sometime in the future, those folks will be paying dearly, for what we today have done..yes I kinda agree with that..surely most everyone does
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Quoting LurkyMcLurkerson:


Ha! It's true. If moms didn't develop this amazing immunity, we'd probably none of us survive infancy, because man, babies... they have some ick. Good thing they're cute. ;)

For me, it's been horses, actually -- muck enough stalls, take care of enough very bloody small wounds, get bucked off into a fresh pile... you get over it. It all washes off.



We raise show rabbits, so we get just a fraction of the poo as we would from horses. Enough to power a small home, maybe :D
Member Since: December 17, 2009 Posts: 0 Comments: 1231
Only weak messages need strong messengers.
Member Since: July 17, 2009 Posts: 71 Comments: 26477

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Jeff co-founded the Weather Underground in 1995 while working on his Ph.D. He flew with the NOAA Hurricane Hunters from 1986-1990.