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Study: Offshore coastal barrier systems remain intact after Hurricane Sandy

Sea level rise still a long-term concern

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Hurricane Sandy winds up for its ravaging run up the East Coast.

By Summit Voice

FRISCO — A post-Sandy study of the seafloor off the shore of New York and New Jersey showed that the protective barrier system that protects the coast from erosion stayed mostly intact, providing some re-assurance to property owners trying to rebuild.

But long-term concerns related to rising sea level remain, a group of researchers said last week, outlining their findings at the American Geophysical Union conference.

“The shape of the bedforms that make up the barrier system did not change a whole lot,” said lead researchers John Goff of the Institute for Geophysics. “Where we might have expected to see significant erosion based on long-term history, not a lot happened — nothing that ate into the shoreface.” Continue reading

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Hurricane Sandy’s force gaged by seismometers

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Hurricane Sandy hitting the Northeast Coast. Photo courtesy NOAA.

Powerful storm shook the Earth’s crust in a wave of vibrations felt by sensitive land-based instruments

By Summit Voice

FRISCO — Scientists using an array of portable land-based seismometers to study how the atmosphere, oceans and solid Earth interact say they were able to detect small seismic waves — microseisms — generated by superstorm Sandy late last year.

When Sandy turned and took aim at New York City and Long Island last October, ocean waves hitting each other and crashing ashore rattled the seafloor and much of the United States, according to University of Utah researchers, who presented their findings last week during the Seismological Society of America’s annual meeting.

The seismometers that detected the storm’s vibrations are part the Earthscope research project that started in California in 2004 and has been leap-frogging eastward to help gain a greater understanding of the Earth’s crust and mantle, similar to how X-rays are used to make CT scans of the human body. To do it accurately, scientists must understand all sources of seismic waves. Continue reading

Global warming could fuel European hurricanes

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Tropical storms are more likely to affect Europe as Atlantic sea surface temperatures rise.

Severe winds to increase in the North Sea and the Gulf of Biscay, especially during autumn

By Bob Berwyn

SUMMIT COUNTY — European climate scientists say global warming will drive a northeastward expansion of the tropical Atlantic hurricane breeding ground, with four times as many storms of tropical origins affecting parts of Western Europe in coming decades.

In the Bay of Biscay, the number of storms with tropical-storm-force winds could increase from 2 to 13 by the end of the century, said researcher Reindert Haarsma.

The initial results suggest that the impacts may not be as great in the low-lying Netherlands as in some other areas because the strong winds associated with the events will generally be from the southwest, Haarsma said.

With hurricanes forming farther north and warmer sea surface temperatures in the region, tropical storms are more likely to reach the mid-latitudes, where they will merge with the prevailing westerlies. Even if they lose hurricane status, they are likely to remain stronger, and sometimes re-intensify before landfall, potentially with serious impacts in parts of Europe.

“Our model simulations clearly show that future tropical cyclones are more prone to hit Western Europe and do so earlier in the season,” said the researchers with the Royal Netherlands Meteorological Institute. Continue reading

Travel: Statue of Liberty to reopen for July 4th holiday

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Down, but not out. Photo courtesy National Park Service.

Damage caused by Hurricane Sandy to be repaired in time for the busy summer season

By Summit Voice

FRISCO — Along with inundating residential areas in the Northeast, Hurricane Sandy also caused extensive damage to the Statue of Liberty, destroying  docks, crippling the energy infrastructure on Ellis Island and wiping out the security screening system.

But Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar today said this week that the National Park Service expects to reopen the Statue of Liberty to visitors in time for Independence Day.

 

“[W]e are fully committed to reopening this crown jewel as soon as it’s safe for visitors and not a second later,”  Salazar said. “Based on the tremendous progress we have made, Lady Liberty will be open to the public in time for the July 4th celebration.” Continue reading

Science team studies Sandy’s impacts to barrier islands

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Hurricane Sandy bearing down on the coast. Satellite image courtesy NOAA.

Calculating impacts to sediment transport critical to restoration efforts

By Summit Voice

FRISCO — Along with the devastation and human suffering it caused, Hurricane Sandy may have raised awareness about the importance of natural coastal defenses to a whole new level. With climate models predicting significant sea level rise and increased precipitation, those natural barriers may become the first — and most important — line of protection against growing storm surges and coastal inundation.

In the wake of Sandy, a rapid response science team from the University of Texas at Austin’s Institute for Geophysics will help map the impact of Hurricane Sandy on the beach and barrier systems off the south shore of Long Island.

The team will collaborate this month with researchers from Stony Brook University, Adelphi University, the City University of New York and other institutions from the New York metro area to assess the health of the offshore barrier system that protects the New York Harbor and southwestern Long Island region against damage from future storms. Continue reading

NOAA calculates cost of 2012 extreme weather episodes

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Hurricane Sandy develops over the southwestern Atlantic. Satellite photo courtesy NOAA.

Heat wave and drought, tropical storms and tornadoes top the list

By Summit Voice

FRISCO — Extreme weather events that may be linked with global warming caused at least 239 deaths in 2012, with the biggest loss of life resulting from Hurricane Sandy, which raked the Caribbean before spinning up the East Coast and then coming ashore over New Jersey.

A summer-long heat wave and associated drought that spanned a big portion of North America caused more than 120 direct deaths and possibly more due to heat stress, according to NOAA, which released preliminary data on the year’s billion-dollar extreme weather events. Continue reading

Climate: Discussions raging on possible links between global warming and superstorm Sandy

Hurricane Sandy bearing down on the East Coast. Satellite image courtesy NOAA.

Record-breaking storm spurs more public awareness about the potential for more frequent extreme weather events

By Bob Berwyn

SUMMIT COUNTY — With several all-time weather records shattered and early estimates that Hurricane Sandy may cost the U.S. economy some $20 to $25 billion, it’s clear that the storm lived up to its billing. Along with the cleanup, there’s also a raging debate about whether global warming was a factor in the storm’s development and path.

On the one side, environmental activists seeking to limit heat-trapping greenhouse gases have jumped on the so-called super storm as an opportunity to tout their cause. On the other side, global warming deniers and others have pulled out timeworn statistics about past hurricanes that supposedly were equally as strong.

The arguments at the extreme sides of the spectrum don’t ring true. Of course, there is no way to scientifically prove that increases in air and ocean temps directly contributed to this storm. There’s still so much natural variability in nature that you just can’t establish a causal link. Continue reading

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