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« Storm damage | Main | Under the boardwalk »

Oct 30, 2012

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Mick

I think I like Joe Bistardi's theories on this stuff. The next few years could get 1950's Hazel rough for the coast. Has to do with cooling Pacific and warming Atlantic cycles.

Ed Cone

Mick, what do the weatherman's theories say about rising sea levels?

The lunacy of the NC debate was that it doesn't matter what causes rising seas, you still have to plan for them if they're a real possibility, and the proposed model was designed to ignore changes in trends.

Spag

Somehow I don't think that the 3mm annual rise in sea level since 1993 makes a substantial difference during a 8-12ft storm surge. Regardless, you are certainly welcome to offer your ideas on how to control nature and stop rising seas.

Ed Cone

One good policy idea is the one discussed in the linked post about NC development rules -- plan for rising seas, rather than ignoring the possibility.

Mick

Mr B didnt comment on rising sea levels. Just hurricanes and associated weather patterns, etc are cyclical. Planning for rising sea levels seems prudent.

Grant

"Somehow I don't think that the 3mm annual rise in sea level since 1993 makes a substantial difference"

Someone should investigate the relationship of depth, surface area and displacement in their bathtub.

Worst person on the internet

Not so fast Sam. Take that 3mm rise and multiply it 19 years since 1993 and you get almost 6 cm. That's 2.4 inches. If it weren't for that rise, the 13 foot surge in Battery Park would only have been 12 feet, 9.6 inches. It would have been a whole different ball game. I bet if you took it all the way back to Hazel the difference would be even more staggering.

Spag

Someone should investigate using full quotes when quoting someone else in order to avoid taking something out of context.

Grant

Sorry. Missed that 3mm of nuance.

Spag

No, you missed the part about the "storm surge" as opposed to displacement under normal conditions.

Ed Cone

"That's 2.4 inches. If it weren't for that rise, the 13 foot surge in Battery Park would only have been 12 feet, 9.6 inches."

This seems similar to the misconception about standing water levels. Don't you have to figure the increased volume of water created by spreading an extra couple of inches across all that surface area, instead of just adding add 2.4 inches to surge height?

Grant

No. Hydrology has a liberal bias. Unskew.

Lex

And the extra water has mass, and, particularly in a storm surge, that mass has kinetic energy.

Geez. Math. I don't know.

Spag

It doesn't matter when you are talking about storm surges measured in feet. Further you have to take into consideration the form of the coastline.

Worst person on the internet

I don't know, but even though it is all additive, I would guess the velocity, fetch and direction of the winds, the unexpected increase in the speed of the storm itself as it approached land,amplifying the piling up water faster than it can dissipate, and the phase of the tides (over 5 feet between low and high--landfall was unfortunately at the worst possible time) would pretty much dwarf the effect of 2.4 inches of sea level in their relative contributions to that 13 feet surge. This was after all, by consensus,the worst storm there in recorded history. Seems a weird context into which to insert tangential global warming dogma the day after. Even with all the recent storm porn (confessed junkie here)and the since debunked post 1995 global warming hurricane hype, I must confess I heard this one here 1st.

I do reserve, not knowing enough to say otherwise, the possibility that if we could have those 2.4 inches back, this could have been a much more placid affair, would not have merited and matched all the hype as Frankenstorm, caused untold less damage, etc, etc.

However, I do know storms have a long history of flooding the hell out of the earth even back when sea levels were at their presumably "correct" levels.

Grant

If it was good enough for the Precambrians, it's darn well good enough for us.

Ed Cone

You may have heard it here first, John, but there seems to be a body of research on the subject of sea level and storm surge, and my post is anchored by a link to an interview with a scientist from the National Center for Atmospheric Research, so much as I'd like to take credit for the observation that adding a lot of water to a system increases the amount of water in that system, I cannot do so.

Worst person on the internet

Well, I guess when we’re all sitting around in our rockers, some of us old-timers will look back on the ’12 Storm that Swallowed New York because of how man (presumably, maybe, sort of) caused the sea level to rise 2 ¼ inches over the preceding 20 years, while others will recall how the moon, by random bad timing, raised it 25 times more in the preceding 6 hours. And then there was that intense low pressure, and that wind, and that acceleration, and that funneling coastline, and that it was the most powerful storm to hit there in recorded history, and…

“You believe what you want to believe…"
Refugee-Tom Petty

Andrew Brod

Exhibit A for why nothing will be done.

bubba

"And the extra water has mass, and, particularly in a storm surge, that mass has kinetic energy."

.....and before you know it, Mt Airy will be the new Myrtle Beach, right?

Spag

Back in 1954, Hurricane Hazel and Hurricane Carol devastated the mid-Atlantic and northeast. The same thing occurred in 1938, except it was even worse.

I don't know that was possible when the sea level was marginally lower. The fallacy in Ed's analysis is that more water is involved. That would only matter if there was a world wide storm surge, which there isn't. The wind doesn't make higher waves as a result of more available water because it only draws waves from the surface. A minute change in the width or depth of the surface creates only a minute increase in the platform upon which waves are created.

In contrast, a tsunami moves the entire mass of water. I'm certain that without that 2.24 increase in water levels, the 2004 tsunami would have been far less destructive.

It must also be noted that global temperatures have leveled out since 1998, yet sea level rise continues to increase. Further, samples from Antarctica reveal that CO2 follows temperature, so there is a real causation issue.

Finally, sea levels have been rising for the past 10,000 years and the 3mm figure is for the U.S. Other countries have observed lower increases and some places have shown a decrease.

But let's not worry about facts. Instead, let's conclude that we have the answer and throw money at the problem. I expect nothing less from those who are anti-science.

Spag

P.S., didn't Obama promise to slow the rise of the seas? I'll bet he would have gotten away with it too if it hadn't been for those meddling Republicans.

bubba

I wonder how many of the climate change "experts" here have flood insurance coverage?

Ed Cone

John, I haven't seen anyone saying rising sea levels are entirely or even mostly responsible for the magnitude of this flooding, just that rising sea levels add to the power and reach of storm surges. You've identified several factors that contributed to the disaster, but seem resistant to the idea that a substantial increase in the volume of water available might be another contributing factor.

This seems like a pretty basic science problem. It goes to the heart of the debate in NC over sea-level rise and planning. And that debate does not have to turn on the cause of rising seas.

Spag

"a substantial increase in the volume of water available might be another contributing factor."

Substantial? Rising sea levels don't "add to the power" of storm surges as they are wind driven events. The "reach" effect given the current level of rising is minute and of no consequence when surges are measured in feet and is also dependent upon the coastal terrain. A beach is going to be affected differently than a breakwall. The former will see a minute rise in reach, while the latter would see a minute rise in height. It also depends greatly on where the impact is. Hatteras has a different level of rise than New Jersey, etc. Some of the difference is accounted for by sinking land mass.

Ed Cone

Right, it's a multi-factor problem, nobody is saying any different. The linked article is good on that topic, and on the difficulties of understanding all the dynamics of a storm.

What seems to be at issue here is the idea that higher sea levels might be one of the factors. That's what the complexity-acknowledging scientist in the link suggests, along with many others. And it seems like common sense to me.

Grant

"That would only matter if there was a world wide storm surge"

Ooookay.

bubba

"Right, it's a multi-factor problem, nobody is saying any different."

Yes, and "sea level increase" is only an insignificant part, regardless of how valuable it is in perpetuating a bogus agenda item talking point.

And don't try to dignify the alarmist position by describing the talking point as a "debate". Debates are based upon established fact, evidence and logic. The "progressive" talking points on global warming "climate change" are not.

Grant

This just in: "Mandia estimated that 6,000 more people were impacted for each additional inch of sea-level rise."

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