Posts Tagged ‘Moisture’
[Reposted from 7:58 am October 29, 2012]
Hi, this is Sandy. People are calling me ‘Frankenstorm’, ‘Superstorm’ and even ‘Weatherbomb’.
I don’t mean to hurt anyone but the record moisture in the atmosphere and heat in the ocean has given me uncontrollable power. I probably will cause billions of dollars of damage in Washington, New York City Boston and other parts of the Northeast. And I will kill some people, I already have. At least 66 people died when I swept through Jamaica and Cuba a few days ago.
I am a force of nature but you have to understand this is not all my fault.
I was born a only a week Monday in the warm waters of the southwestern Caribbean sea as a cluster of thunderstorms — what you call a tropical depression, the first stage of a hurricane. One unusual thing about my birth was that it was so late in the hurricane-tropical storm season. But this is happening more and more often as the climate becomes warmer and large parts of the ocean stay warmer longer.
The air and sea are warmer because hundreds of millions of tonnes of carbon dioxide (CO2) from burning coal, oil, and natural gas are now in the atmosphere. You should know that CO2 is the planet’s heating blanket that has kept the planet warm by trapping some of the sun’s heat.
Those hundreds of millions of tonnes of CO2 you humans have put in the atmosphere means the CO2 blanket is thicker and capturing more heat from the sun. The amount of extra heat-energy being trapped is like exploding 400,000 Hiroshima atomic bombs per day 365 days per year.
Most of that extra heat has gone into the oceans which is why land temperatures around the world have only risen 0.8 degree C (1.0F) on average. The oceans are getting warmer and warm water expands – that’s why pots boil over. That’s one reason why sea levels are rising. The other reason is melting glaciers and ice sheets.
Warmer air can also hold more moisture. Measurements show there is now 4 to 6 percent more water vapour (moisture) in the air making rainfalls heavier.
I was born in water 28C (80F) or better. To grow stronger I need warm water and lots of moisture in the air. There was plenty of both last week and by Monday evening my wind speeds were strong enough to be called a tropical storm. By Wednesday I was stronger still and named Hurricane Sandy, the 10th hurricane of 2012. There have been 19 tropical storms so far making this year tied for third busiest hurricane season in history.
Hurricanes live on warm water and moist air which is why I lost strength going over the mountains and hills of Jamaica and Cuba. But the huge area of near-record warm waters from Florida all the way up the east coast gave me the energy to stay at hurricane strength and grow in size. In fact I’ve become so big I may be one of the biggest ever recorded.
This should not be a surprise. More heat trapped by the extra CO2 means more fuel for storms and more moisture for heavier rains and more flooding than in the past. Higher sea levels means storm surges will be more damaging.
Hurricanes and typhoons are a way in which the Earth has re-distributed heat for millions of years. Think of us as giant pressure-relief valves. With more heat in the atmosphere it shouldn’t be surprising that we’ve become bigger and more powerful.
I said I was a force of nature, many say an Act of God. But that’s no longer true is it?
[Reposted from October 29, 2012 - Haiti needs help please donate to The Lambi Fund of Haiti, a disaster relief organization helping farmers - Sandy destroyed thousands of acres of crops.]
Hard to believe I was born only a week ago south of Jamaica. I grew very quickly over the hot Carribbean sea and last Wednesday swept into Jamaica west of Kingston with winds of 130 kph. Damage was extensive cutting power to half the country. One person died.
Last Thursday I was in Cuba, another poor country that can least afford to be damaged. Cuba is well organized to cope with powerful hurricanes. Just 35 deaths through 16 hurricanes and tropical storms since 2001.The US has fared far worse with fewer storms.
But I was a Category 2 when I arrived over Santiago, Cuba’s second largest city. Eleven people died, 3000 buildings destroyed, 30,000 lost their roofs. A billion dollars in damages. It will be a long recovery. The power is still out today.
In the Bahamas, Puerto Rico, and the Dominican Republic more people died and thousands of homes were damaged.
Worst off was the most vulnerable of all: Haiti.
More than 50 people died in the southern Haiti including the area around Port-au-Prince. This where most of the 370,000 Haitians who are still living in flimsy shelters because the 2010 earthquake destroyed their homes. My flooding and high-winds destroyed many of those shelters as well their crops.
I hope you will help them. They have no resources to recover. Please remember no matter what comes in the next two days they will still be worse off.
To be absolutely clear: I am not “targeting” New York City or anywhere else. I am pushed and pulled by temperature and pressure differences. My winds are powered by warm water and moisture. And there is enough heat and moisture for my winds to make 12-foot high waves over a 3 million sq km area – one third the size of the US.
I don’t want to hurt anyone or cause any damage. I am simply nature’s pressure-relief valve, a way of re-distributing heat energy across the planet. But I’m not entirely natural. For hundreds of thousands of years the levels of carbon dioxide (CO2) averaged 270-280 parts per million (ppm) which trapped enough of the sun’s heat to keep the planet comfortably warm.
Today the CO2 concentration is measured at 390 ppm. That’s nearly 40 per cent more CO2 in the air to capture more heat from the sun. About 90 percent of this extra heat has gone into the oceans.
All this extra CO2 came from your burning coal, oil, and gas and cutting down most of the world’s forests (trees take CO2 from the air to grow). So it’s plain to see that I not entirely natural.
I am truly a hybrid storm: part nature; part human.