Superstorm Sandy is the latest example of climate change contributing to extreme weather. It underscores the need for the United States and the world to take urgent action to reduce the pollution that is causing climate change and intensifying extreme weather events, Rep. Ed Markey (D-Mass.) said today. Rep. Markey pointed to the latest studies on climate change, and the real-world events that have occurred just in the last two years, as all the evidence needed to enact strong limits on the pollution that is destabilizing our climate.
"For this superstorm to occur so late in the storm season, reach such fury, and have the kinds of flooding impacts that we are seeing, is fully consistent with what scientists have told us we should expect due to global warming," said Rep. Markey, the top Democrat on the Natural Resources Committee. "It's time to admit the obvious fact that climate change is here. Warmer water in the Atlantic is fueling stronger storms, the seas are higher, and the dramatic changes in the Arctic are potentially altering the path of storms hundreds of miles away. Climate change is no longer some far off issue; it's at our doorstep. We must consider how to address the underlying factors that are fueling these extreme weather events."
"Our thoughts and prayers go out to the families and friends of those killed and impacted by this superstorm," continued Rep. Markey. "The federal government and all United States citizens stand at the ready to help those in need."
Rep. Markey released a report last week on climate change effects in New England.
Some of the major findings of the report included:
--The Northeast is heating up rapidly. January to August 2012 set a new record for high temperatures both on land and in the ocean.
--Ocean temperatures in the Northeast during the first half of 2012 were the warmest on record, which can fuel stronger storms.
--Precipitation in New England is becoming increasingly erratic -- extreme rain and snowfall events are on the rise, making damaging floods more likely. Extreme downpours and snowfalls have increased by 85 percent since 1948.
--Rates of sea-level rise from North Carolina to Massachusetts are two to four times faster than the global average, causing more erosion and storm threats now and potential inundation in the future.
In September, Reps. Markey and Henry A. Waxman (D-Calif.) released a report on extreme weather and climate change, which summarized the recent extreme weather events and science in the United States. Reps. Markey and Waxman are the co-authors of the only climate change bill to pass a chamber of Congress, in 2009.
Among the major findings of that report were:
--During the first six months of 2012, sea surface temperatures in the northeastern Atlantic were the highest ever, breaking a record that goes back to 1854. In some nearshore locations like the Delaware and Chesapeake Bays, temperatures were more than 11°F above the historical average at the surface.
--On September 16, 2012, Arctic sea ice coverage shrank to a new record low of 1.32 million square miles, 18 percent below the previous record set in 2007. In addition, sea surface temperatures are significantly higher than average along the western coast of Greenland, which likely contributed to the loss of a massive chunk of ice twice the size of Manhattan from the Petermann Glacier in mid-July.
"If we don't cut carbon pollution, the oceans will get warmer, the seas will get higher, and the storms will get stronger," said Rep. Markey. "We still have time to heed these extreme weather warnings."