Hurricane Sandy hit the northeastern coast of the US in 2012 causing widespread destruction an estimated $ 62.7 billion, and a new study shows 13 percent of the damage was caused by man-made climate change.
A total of $ 8.1 billion is now linked to a warming world, which has resulted from the ten-centimeter sea level rise around the New York area since 1900.
This allowed the superstorm to travel deeper and deeper inland through New York, New Jersey and Connecticut, affecting an additional 36,000 homes and 71,000 people.
Philip Orton, associate professor at Stevens and co-author of the study, said: This study is the first to isolate the human-caused sea-level rise effects during a coastal storm and put a dollar sign for the additional flood damage.
“As coastal flooding affects more and more communities and causes widespread destruction, locating the financial toll and lives impacted by climate change will hopefully make our efforts to reduce them more urgent.”
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A total of $ 8.1 billion is now linked to global warming, which resulted from sea levels rising four inches around the New York area since 1900. This allowed the superstorm to travel deeper and deeper inland through New York, New Jersey. and Connecticut (Manhattan shown)
Hurricane Sandy shook the northeast coastline on October 29, 2012, delivering up to 12 inches of rain within two days, and causing power outages to more than 20 million residents for periods from days to weeks.
Sandy’s breadth pushed much more water into New Jersey and New York, dropped 3 feet of snow in West Virginia, and created 20-foot waves on the distant Great Lakes.
Now scientists have calculated for the first time how much damage climate change caused, and it is the first time that damage has contributed to human-caused warming.
While previous studies have determined that global warming was a factor in extreme weather events, either by increasing the odds or making them stronger, the new study is one of the first to assess the human cost of climate change from burning coal. maps. oil and natural gas.
Sandy’s breadth pushed much more water into New Jersey and New York (pictured), dropped 3 feet of snow in West Virginia, and created 20-foot waves on the distant Great Lakes
To arrive at the total damage, the study first calculated how much of the storm surge – as much as 9 feet above the tide mark at the Battery in Manhattan – could be attributed to climate change.
This was done by comparing observations from 2012 with climate simulations of a world without global warming.
Researchers made calculations for sea level rise in general and then did so for each of the main contributors to sea level rise: warmer water expanding and additional water from melting glaciers and ice sheets in Greenland and Antarctica.
The results showed that the world’s seas were 4.1 inches higher in 2012 than in 1900 due to climate change, but the number was slightly less in New York: 3.8 inches.
The team looked at sea levels worldwide from 1900 to 2000 to understand whether a rise may have been attributed to more damage from Hurricane Sandy.
The results showed that the world’s seas were 4.1 inches higher in 2012 than in 1900 due to climate change, but the number was slightly less in New York: 3.8 inches. Pictured is a storm-damaged beachfront home reflected in a pool of water in the Far Rockaways, Queens
The reason is that Alaska’s melting glaciers and Greenland’s melting ice sheet are relatively close to the east coast, and the physics of sea-level rise is causing the biggest rises on the other side of the world than the biggest melts, said study co-author Bob Kopp. . director of the Institute of Earth, Oceans and Atmospheric Sciences at Rutgers University.
The researchers then looked at where the flood was and what computer simulations showed that ten centimeters less water would have happened.
In places, like Howard Beach in Queens, it was a big deal, Orton said.
Susan Cutter, director of the University of South Carolina’s Hazards and Vulnerability Research Institute, which was also not part of the study, said the study’s estimates seem reasonable to her.
Study author Strauss pointed out that Hurricane Irene in 2011 showed that the first five feet of floods don’t do nearly as much damage as what follows.
Then, he said, the damage increases per inch at an increasing rate.
One way to think about that, Strauss said, is that the extra inches can put enough water above a home’s lowest electrical outlet to require expensive repairs.
In the future, the researchers hope to apply this approach to assess the financial and human costs of man-made sea level rise in other regions, including the Gulf of Mexico.
“If we calculated the costs of climate change for all floods – both nuisance floods and those caused by extreme storms – that figure would be huge,” Orton said.
“It would clarify the serious damage we are doing to ourselves and our planet.”
New Jersey, New York, and Connecticut are the focus of many climate change studies as the states are located on the east coast of the US.
A study in March identified six locations in Connecticut, New York City, New Jersey and North Carolina where sea levels rose a total of 1.4 inches from 1900 to 2000
A team led by Rutgers University determined in March that sea levels along the US East Coast were rising faster in the 20th century than in the past 2,000 years – with the fastest rise in the Garden State.
Researchers analyzed levels at six locations in Connecticut, New York City, New Jersey and North Carolina, and revealed that the locations experienced a total of 1.4-inch sea-level rise from 1900 to 2000.
However, southern New Jersey had the highest rates at about 0.63 inches per decade in some areas and 0.6 inches in others.
The spike in sea levels is contributed to melting ice and warming of the oceans due to climate change, researchers say.
HOW CAN YOU PREPARE FOR FLOODING?
Floods can occur anywhere in the United States.
The Department of Homeland Security says it is particularly important to be prepared for flooding if you live in an area close to water, including areas close to a stream, river, culvert, or ocean, or if you live downstream from a dyke or dam.
Floods can occur in any season, but coastal areas in the US are more likely to experience it during hurricane season.
Areas of the Midwest are more prone to flooding during the spring and periods of heavy summer rain.
Following are some basic tips for surviving floods:
- Do not walk or drive through flooded areas.
- Do not drive over bridges that span fast-flowing flood waters. Floods can destabilize bridges.
- Move to higher ground when a flash flood risk is announced.
- During periods of heavy rainfall, do not camp or park near streams, creeks or rivers.