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More Hurricane Sandy-like storms predicted

The research predicts, based on a worst case scenario, that such storms will be come 17 times more common by the year 2020. A collaboration between Princeton and Rutgers universities and the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution has produced a new computer model that has analysed historic weather data and used this, through a special algorithm, to make predictions about future meteorological trends.

The focus of the model is with long-term coastal flood risks and it considers the risks of sea-level rise and varying storm activity. Coastal floods are referred to as “surge floods.” This means a rise of coastal water as the result of a storm surge (this happens through the combination of a storm’s pressure and wind forces).

Central to the model is the variable of climate change. Data relating to sea level and peak storm surge height was also important. Much of the data was provided by the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration center.

Discussing the findings with Laboratory Manager magazine, lead scientist Professor Ning Lin explains the importance of the work: “To effectively prepare for future hurricanes, we need to know what coastal cities will be facing in the coming decades, but past models have not accounted for all of the significant dynamic factors involved in predicting surge floods.”

She added that for this “you need numbers to plan, and this analysis puts sea-level rise and storm surge climatology together on a quantitative basis.”

The resultant model is the first to offer a strong prediction about dangerous weather patterns over a near one hundred year period. The key outcome is that Sandy-like surge floods would become at least 3 times to as great as 17 times more common.

Predicting the time and intensity of such storms helps areas prepare for the worst. Hurricane Sandy was the second worst hurricane in U.S. history based on the cost of the damage. The storm caused some $71 billion worth of damage and it killed 157 people in the U.S. alone.

The predictive research has been published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. The research is headed “Hurricane Sandy’s flood frequency increasing from year 1800 to 2100.”

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Written By

Dr. Tim Sandle is Digital Journal's Editor-at-Large for science news. Tim specializes in science, technology, environmental, and health journalism. He is additionally a practising microbiologist; and an author. He is also interested in history, politics and current affairs.

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