Charles H. Greene is professor of earth and atmospheric sciences and a fellow at the David R. Atkinson Center for a Sustainable Future at Cornell University. He is the author of “The Winters of Our Discontent: Loss of Arctic sea ice is stacking the deck in favor of harsh winters in the U.S. and Europe” in the upcoming December 2012 issue of Scientific American.
Greene, who is attending the two-week United Nations climate talks in Doha, Qatar, comments on the links between shrinking polar ice sheets, extreme winter weather and devastating superstorms such as Hurricane Sandy.
“The recent extensive summertime losses of Arctic sea ice, which have previously been linked to extremes in U.S. and European winter weather, are relevant to understanding the unusual nature of Superstorm Sandy.
“Although she started out as a tropical hurricane, what made Sandy so unusual were the atmospheric interactions that transformed her from a modest hurricane into a monster hybrid storm that combined the worst features of a late-season hurricane and a developing, early-winter nor’easter. Following a historically unprecedented westward trajectory right into the heart of the most populated area of the U.S., this huge and powerful hybrid storm has been interpreted by some as the coincidence of many rare and/or unprecedented acts of nature.
“However, in my opinion, the fingerprints of climate change are all over this weather of mass destruction."
• Greene will describe an ambitious plan to shift from unsustainable fossil-fuel to a new reliance on algal bioenergy and direct air capture of carbon dioxide at 11 a.m. Tuesday, Dec. 4 at Weill Cornell Medical College in Qatar, and during the U.N. Climate Change Conference, at 2:45 p.m. Wednesday, Dec. 5 at the Sahara Forest Project/Bellona Foundation, Room 13, Hall 3, Green Area.
• Greene’s Oct. 31, 2012 guest blog in Scientific American on climate change and Hurricane Sandy: http://bit.ly/TYIED6
• Greene’s June 2012 paper in Oceanography on Arctic climate change and more severe winter weather: http://www.tos.org/oceanography/archive/25-2_greene.html