Damaging Katrina-level storm surges are twice as likely in warm years

By: Dr. Jeff Masters , 5:22 PM GMT on November 26, 2012

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Perhaps the most stunning images in the wake of Hurricane Sandy were the sight of the roller coaster from the Casino Pier in Seaside Heights, New Jersey lying in the Atlantic Ocean. The images reminded us that hurricane storm surges are capable of causing tremendous destruction along the coast, and one of the main concerns on how global warming might affect hurricanes is the potential for stronger hurricanes to create larger storm surges. We expect that global warming should make the strongest hurricanes stronger, since hurricanes are heat engines that take heat energy out of the ocean and converts it to wind energy. These stronger winds will be capable of piling up higher storm surges. However, it is controversial whether or not we have observed an increase in the strongest hurricanes, since hurricane winds are hard to observe. Our long-term hurricane data base is generally too low in quality and covers too short a period of time to make very good estimates of how climate change may be affecting hurricane winds. However, a new 2012 paper, "Homogeneous record of Atlantic hurricane surge threat since 1923" by Grinsted et al., looked at storm surge data from six tide gauges along the U.S. coast from Texas to New Jersey, and concluded that the number of moderately large hurricane and tropical storm surge events has increased since 1923. Moderately large storm surge events are on pace to nearly double by the year 2100, compared to 20th century levels. Moreover, 1-in-9 year to 1-in-30 year Katrina-level storm surge events are twice as likely to occur in warm years compared to cool years, and thus global warming may be able to dramatically increase the frequency of highly damaging extreme storm surge events. Since sea level is steadily rising due to global warming, these future storm surges will also be riding in on top of an elevated ocean surface, and will thus be able to do even greater damage than in the past. Expect to see many more shocking storm surge damage photos in the coming decades, unless we wise up, retreat from areas highly vulnerable to storm surge, and invest in increased shoreline protection measures.


Figure 1. The Casino Pier in Seaside Heights, N.J. taken during a search and rescue mission by 1-150 Assault Helicopter Battalion, New Jersey Army National Guard on Oct. 30, 2012. Image credit: U.S. Air Force photo by Master Sgt. Mark C. Olsen.


Figure 2. Top: Observed long-term frequency of moderately large storm surge events from hurricanes and tropical storms measured at six tide gauges along the U.S. East Coast (inset map). The thick line is a 5-year moving average. These type of surge events occurred an average of 5.4 times/year between 1923 - 2008, and are on pace to increase to 9.5 events per year by 2100. Bottom: Departure of Earth's annual mean surface temperature from average, shaded to show warmer and colder than median temperatures. Large storm surge events increase in probability during warmer than average years. Image credit: Grinsted et al. 2012, "A homogeneous record of Atlantic hurricane surge threat since 1923."

Using storm surge to evaluate damage normalization studies
Damage from landfalling storms can be used to estimate if hurricanes are growing stronger with time, but damage estimates must first be corrected to account for changes in wealth and population over time. A 2008 study by Pielke et al. found that although hurricane damages had been doubling every ten years in recent decades, there were no increases in normalized hurricane damages in the U.S. from 1900 - 2005. They used census and economic data to adjust for how increases in populations and wealth may have affected hurricane damages over time. However, Grinsted et al. (2012) questioned whether or not this was done correctly. They found that storm surge heights of U.S. hurricanes and tropical storms correlated very well with metrics that looked at storm intensity, when looking at many decades of data to see long-term trends. However, the researchers found that while short-term trends in normalized hurricane damage estimated by Pielke et al. (2008) did correlate well historical storm surges, these normalized damages had poor correlation with the storm surge record, when looking at decades-long time scales. This implies that the corrections were biased. Dr. Stephan Lewandowsky of the University of Western Australia makes the case that efforts such as the one done by Pielke et al. (2008) to normalize disaster losses are probably biased too low, since they only look at factors that tend to increase disaster losses with time, but ignore factors that tend to decrease disaster losses. These ignored factors include improvements in building codes, better weather forecasts allowing more preparation time, and improved fire-fighting ability. He writes, "Most normalization research to date has not accounted for those variables because they are extremely difficult to quantify. (And most researchers have been at pains to point that out; e.g., Neumayer & Barthel, 2011, pp. 23-24.) In effect, normalization research to date largely rests on the oddly inconsistent pair of assumptions that (a) we have built up enormous wealth during the 20th century but (b) did so without any technological advance whatsoever." Grinsted et al. (2012) suggest that it may be possible to use their storm surge data to correct biased hurricane damage estimates, though. Take home message: studies showing no increase in normalized damage from storms have high uncertainty, and it is possible that higher economic damages due to stronger hurricanes are indeed occurring.

References
Grinsted, A., J. C. Moore, and S. Jevrejeva, 2012, "A homogeneous record of Atlantic hurricane surge threat since 1923," PNAS 2012, doi:10.1073/pnas.1209542109

Pielke et al., 2008, "Normalized Hurricane Damage in the United States: 1900–2005", Natural Hazards Review, Volume 9, Issue 1, pp. 29-42.

Links
In this remarkable home video, 15-year-old Christofer Sochacki captures the evening high tide on the day Superstorm Sandy struck Union Beach, New Jersey. The later part of the video shows how high waves on top of a 8-foot storm surge can lead to a punishing assault on beach-front structures.

Jeff Masters

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Quoting auburn:


as always..its great!hope your the same!


great would have been a victory over lil nicky satan
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529. auburn (Mod)
Quoting pottery:

And we can see from your avatar that you are indeed well prepared.

How is Life, Auburn ?


as always..its great!hope your the same!
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I saw it too late... arrrgggg

take care Pottery!

so Dougie.. hows corn snake taste?
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Quoting Luisport:
No one is discussing the Arkstorm heading to all west coast starting today???
???
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Quoting indianrivguy:


If they are not pear reviewed..... just sayin'


Maybe pears are out of season where he is.....


heheheheh

Laters>>>>>>>>>
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Quoting indianrivguy:


If they are not pear reviewed..... just sayin'




Pear reviewed?
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Quoting pottery:

Bad Omen......

You need to eat it right away to neutralise the Powers.





Thanks!



I needed a good laugh!
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Quoting pottery:

Hmmmm...
I never reviewed those remarks. Who made them? Can They be trusted???

:):))


If they are not peer reviewed..... just sayin'
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Lovely weather here today at 11n 61w.

Scattered cloud, occasional showers.
Max temp a relatively low 90F (down from 95 a couple weeks ago).
Gentle breezes.
Nice.

Back to work......
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No one is discussing the Arkstorm heading to all west coast starting today???
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Good afternoon. It's been snowing most of the day up here but temperatures have been slightly above freezing so we just have a light coating on the grass.
Member Since: February 11, 2012 Posts: 82 Comments: 7640
Quoting auburn:


I have lived through the end of the world a few times now..bring it on!

And we can see from your avatar that you are indeed well prepared.

How is Life, Auburn ?
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Quoting PensacolaDoug:
I just caught a little red rat snake in a customers yard.

Bad Omen......

You need to eat it right away to neutralise the Powers.
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517. auburn (Mod)
Quoting pottery:

True!
Wont be long now.
Are you Prepared ?


I have lived through the end of the world a few times now..bring it on!
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Quoting hydrus:
Hope he doesnt smoke. :)

Well if he does, you'll see the flash from your place. I'll probably see it from here too.
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Quoting TomballTXPride:

So are we now only using data sets that are conveniently tailored to our liking?



No. It's called using datasets that are relevant and comparable. If datasets are on different baselines they are not comparable. It's not a matter of "tailoring to our liking" or whatever other scare-words one comes up with, it's a matter of being accurate, correct, & honest.

If you still are having confusion over this topic, please read my post above that summarizes the many differences between temperature data sets. It is important to know the differences between them if you want to talk about them.
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Bopha is getting ready to have an eye soon.Very nice CDO.

Member Since: April 29, 2009 Posts: 75 Comments: 14073
Quoting pottery:

I heard he was filling the bayou behind his house with gasoline.
Plans on making a couple bucks when the refineries go down.


Not good, when fire rains down from the heavens that's gonna be a big fire....Ka Boom!!
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I just caught a little red rat snake in a customers yard.
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Quoting pottery:

I heard he was filling the bayou behind his house with gasoline.
Plans on making a couple bucks when the refineries go down.
Hope he doesnt smoke. :)
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Fiscal Cliff: 12-21-12 from nature

Fiscal Cliff: 1-1-13 from man





Pick your poison.
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Quoting hydrus:
It is an established fact. Ask the tree..:)


heheheheheh
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Quoting RitaEvac:
Patrap is, maybe getting his preps on Doomsday Preppers show. Why he hasn't been on the blog I'm guessing.

;)

I heard he was filling the bayou behind his house with gasoline.
Plans on making a couple bucks when the refineries go down.

(I'm kidding here, of course)
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Quoting pottery:

Hmmmm...
I never reviewed those remarks. Who made them? Can They be trusted???

:):))
It is an established fact. Ask the tree..:)
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UN: methane released from melting ice could push climate past tipping point

Doha conference is warned that climate models do not yet take account of methane in thawing permafrost

Fiona Harvey, environment correspondent
guardian.co.uk, Tuesday 27 November 2012 19.02 GMT

The United Nations sounded a stark warning on the threat to the climate from methane in the thawing permafrost as governments met for the second day of climate change negotiations in Doha, Qatar.

Thawing permafrost releases methane, a powerful greenhouse gas, but this has not yet been included in models of the future climate. Permafrost covers nearly a quarter of the northern hemisphere at present and is estimated to contain 1,700 gigatonnes of carbon -- twice the amount currently in the atmosphere. As it thaws, it could push global warming past one of the key "tipping points" that scientists believe could lead to runaway climate change.

http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2012/nov/27 /doha-climate-conference-un-methane
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Quoting RitaEvac:
Patrap is, maybe getting his preps on Doomsday Preppers show. Why he hasn't been on the blog I'm guessing.

;)
He had surgery I believe.
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Quoting hydrus:
My visions have have been along those lines, and I am a good hearted, positive thinking person...So i,m told..

Hmmmm...
I never reviewed those remarks. Who made them? Can They be trusted???

:):))
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Patrap is, maybe getting his preps on Doomsday Preppers show. Why he hasn't been on the blog I'm guessing.

;)
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Quoting RitaEvac:


Nah, gonna ride this one out

Yeah, me too.
Bring it on, I say! And may the Devil take the Hindmost.
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Quoting pottery:

There's always Brimstone....
we haven't had that one, yet.....
My visions have been along those lines, and I am a good hearted, positive thinking person...So i,m told..
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Quoting pottery:

True!
Wont be long now.
Are you Prepared ?


Nah, gonna ride this one out
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Quoting RitaEvac:
We need live shots of the sun, it should be ape $#!T in a few weeks

True!
Wont be long now.
Are you Prepared ?
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We need live shots of the sun, it should be going ape $#!T in a few weeks
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Quoting hydrus:
Man thats bad. Now I say to myself whats next...

There's always Brimstone....
we haven't had that one, yet.....
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Quoting hydrus:
Man thats bad. Now I say to myself whats next...


12-21-12
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Quoting schwankmoe:
the funny thing is, the satellite data which shows .33C above the 33-year average is part of the overall data set used to show .6C over the last hundred years. the data are not incongruous.




And yet we deny them.
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Quoting RitaEvac:
US estimated damage from Sandy at $71 Billion
Man thats bad. Now I say to myself whats next...
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493. yoboi
Quoting schwankmoe:
spencer has it as .33C above the last 33 years' average. his data is solely satellite-based and starts in 1979.

we're talking about farther back than that, and the anomaly over the last 100 years is even higher. climate change didn't start in 1979.

Quoting schwankmoe:
spencer has it as .33C above the last 33 years' average. his data is solely satellite-based and starts in 1979.

we're talking about farther back than that, and the anomaly over the last 100 years is even higher. climate change didn't start in 1979.




i am reading what all he says it's alot
Member Since: August 25, 2010 Posts: 7 Comments: 2337
the funny thing is, the satellite data which shows .33C above the 33-year average is part of the overall data set used to show .6C over the last hundred years. the data are not incongruous.



Quoting pottery:

Depends on which side of the spiky fence you sit, does'nt it ?

Seems to me (and many thousands of others) that the data sets are pretty conclusive.
And they all point in one direction.

Of course, there is absolutely nothing wrong in seeking other data sets.
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Quoting TomballTXPride:

So are we now only using data sets that are conveniently tailored to our liking?


Depends on which side of the spiky fence you sit, does'nt it ?

Seems to me (and many thousands of others) that the data sets are pretty conclusive.
And they all point in one direction.

Of course, there is absolutely nothing wrong in seeking other data sets.
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the initial assertion was that the anomaly over the last century was .6C. pointing out that the anomaly over the last 33 years is less than .6C disproves nothing. clearly if you're going to try to disprove it, you're going to have to show evidence of a smaller anomaly over the same time frame.

otherwise it's like me saying that since the day i was born i've gained 150 pounds, and you saying 'nu uh, you've only gained 10 pounds in the last 10 years'.

again, you stated repeatedly that the initial assertion of .6C wasn't based on peer-reviewed research. again, i'm asking, whaddya got?

Quoting TomballTXPride:

So are we now only using data sets that are conveniently tailored to our liking?

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spencer has it as .33C above the last 33 years' average. his data is solely satellite-based and starts in 1979.

we're talking about farther back than that, and the anomaly over the last 100 years is even higher. climate change didn't start in 1979.

Quoting yoboi:



Dr roy spencer has it at .33 as of oct 2012. it jumped to .6 in a month?
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US estimated damage from Sandy at $71 Billion
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486. HadesGodWyvern (Mod)
Japan Meteorological Agency
Tropical Cyclone Advisory #17
TROPICAL STORM BOPHA (T1224)
3:00 AM JST November 28 2012
=======================================

SUBJECT: Category One Typhoon Near Marshall Islands

At 18:00 PM UTC, Tropical Storm Bopha (998 hPa) located at 4.4N 155.1E has 10 minute sustained winds of 40 knots with gusts of 60 knots. The cyclone is reported as almost stationary.

Dvorak Intensity: T2.5

Gale Force Winds
===============
150 NM from the center

Forecast and Intensity
=======================
24 HRS: 4.7N 152.2E - 45 knots (CAT 1/Tropical Storm) Chuuk region
48 HRS: 5.1N 149.1E - 55 knots (CAT 2/Severe Tropical Storm) Caroline Island
72 HRS: 5.6N 144.8E - 60 knots (CAT 2/Severe Tropical Storm) Caroline Island
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485. yoboi
Quoting Xyrus2000:


There are multiple reviewed temperature sets available online if you'd care to take a look. HadCRUT, GISTEMP, NOAA, and others are all a google search away. The IPCC also has a nice conglomeration of temeprature data as well.

Current temperature anomalies over the baseline range from aproximately .5C to 1C, depending on which temperature set you want to go with. The average is around .6C to .7C.

Here's a link to GISS: Link

Here's a link to NOAA: Link

I really don't think they're just making this up.



Dr roy spencer has it at .33 as of oct 2012. it jumped to .6 in a month?
Member Since: August 25, 2010 Posts: 7 Comments: 2337
Quoting indianrivguy:


everything you want to know about rain in south Florida; Go Hydrology, rain

from that page,





I absolutely cringe at the phrase "La Nina". If we go into another one before a decent El Nino, we might see quite a few more dry lake beds as many of the lakes have not refilled since the 2011 dry spell. I try to stay out of the global warming discussions on here but I tell ya one little part of the world I'd like to see warm up at least temporarily is the equatorial pacific.
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Quoting TomballTXPride:

Incorrect. .6C is exaggerating. We have not saw that yet. Please stick to the facts. Thanks in advance.


There are multiple reviewed temperature sets available online if you'd care to take a look. HadCRUT, GISTEMP, NOAA, and others are all a google search away. The IPCC also has a nice conglomeration of temeprature data as well.

Current temperature anomalies over the baseline range from aproximately .5C to 1C, depending on which temperature set you want to go with. The average is around .6C to .7C.

Here's a link to GISS: Link

Here's a link to NOAA: Link

I really don't think they're just making this up.
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Quoting yonzabam:


It's not me who's 'assuming'. It's standard teaching in climate science. Do you think the climate scientists are wrong?

Water vapour is such a powerful greenhouse gas, that if clouds didn't form and reflect back incoming solar radiation, there would be a runaway greenhouse effect like we see on Venus. The oceans would boil, and all life on Earth would cease to be.


I don't think you understood what I wrote.

You implied that more WV automatically means more clouds, enough to offset the GH effect of the increased water vapor. Current research indicates that this is not so. Certain conditions need to be present for cloud formation. If WV increases but the cloud coverage doesn't increase enough to offset it, then you end up with a positive feedback, which is what is projected to happen.

For evidence that increased water vapor doesn't mean more cloud cover, take a look at some of the Middle East coutnries that border the ocean. High heat. High humidity. Few clouds.

Also, clouds are tropospheric phenomena mainly, which means there is still some warming as a result of increased WV. Greenhouse gases work by absorbing and re-radiating IR radiation in all directions. While clouds do act to increase albedo, they aren't perfect reflectors. Not all of that reflected energy will make it out of the troposphere.

And no, it would take a lot more than just water vapor to make the Earth reach a runaway GH effect. Our planet's orbit and short rotational period pretty much guarantee that the Earth won't become like Venus anytime soon. It would have happened already if it were possible (for example, the temperatures were significantly higher during the Jurassic period, and there was still no runaway GH).
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Quoting lightinthedark:


I am so sorry .I didn't mean to break any rules .


You didn't. Your post was every bit as relevant as the rest of this stuff today...LOL!!
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About

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