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Extreme storms shift attitudes on climate change

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Superstorm Sandy poised to rake the East Coast.

‘Our hope is that researchers will design persuasion strategies that effectively change people’s implicit attitudes without them having to suffer through a disaster’

By Summit Voice

FRISCO — It may sound like a no-brainer, but after experiencing extreme weather first-hand, people tend to think more seriously about climate change, according to researchers at Rutgers University.

Research published in the journal Psychological Science concluded that, after Superstorm Sandy and Hurricane Irene, New Jersey residents were more likely to show support for a politician running on a “green” platform, and expressed a greater belief that climate change is caused by human activity. 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

Survey: Americans support climate change adaptation

Superstorm Sandy may have been a turning point in public perception

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February temperatures were above normal almost everywhere across the mid-latitudes, but colder than average in the polar regions, compared to the 1951-1980 average. Via NASA.

By Summit Voice

SUMMIT COUNTY — While some Americans may still not be convinced that greenhouse gas emissions are heating up the planet, there does appear to be an emerging consensus that the country should prepare for the potential impacts of a changing climate.

Superstorm Sandy may have been a turning point, as images of flooding in downtown Manhattan and shoreline devastation in New Jersey dominated the airwaves for a few days. Americans may have seen Sandy as a sign of things to come, according to a new survey by the Stanford Woods Institute for the Environment and the Center for Ocean Solutions. Continue reading

Science team studies Sandy’s impacts to barrier islands

Superstorm Sandy

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

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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