It seems that Michael Bloomberg’s $20 billion plan to climate-proof New York City might be for naught.
Environmentalists and scientists have sounded the warning that global warming will cause more powerful storms that will ravage U.S. coastal cities, like superstorm Sandy. But while we may see bigger storms, changing air patterns will keep the country out of harms way.
A study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences claims that global warming will make it less likely that another superstorm Sandy will slam into New York and the rest of the eastern seaboard.
Sandy was already a rare storm when it hit the East Coast head on in October 2012, after making a sharp turn left. However, global warming will make it so future storms are less likely to follow the same path as Sandy.
“What made Sandy so different was that it was steered into the coast rather than away from it,” said Elizabeth Barnes, a climate scientist at Colorado State University and the study’s co-author.
Researchers used climate models were based on greenhouse gas levels tripling by 2100 to see if future Sandy-like storms were more or less likely to slam directly into the Atlantic coast. The models showed that future air patterns in a warmer world would make it less likely that the U.S. would be struck by another Sandy as wind currents would be more likely to push big storms further offshore.
However, “you can’t let your guard down,” the researchers warned.
The study did not look into whether or not large storms would increase or decrease in frequency, only what their possible trajectories might be.
“What they did in this paper was to look specifically at the steering patterns in the atmosphere,” said Kerry Emanuel, researcher at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. “It doesn’t mean that New York is off the hook if in fact there are going to be more storms overall.”
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