Storm surge Hurricane Sandy, our changing climate, and extreme weather of the past and future

Adam H. Sobel, 1967-

Book - 2014

Examines the devastating and unprecedented events of Hurricane Sandy, using it to explain the Earth's changing climate and how to protect cities and coastal areas from the effects of huge storms.

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Subjects
Published
New York, NY : HarperWave, an imprint of HarperCollinsPublishers [2014]
Edition
First edition
Language
English
Physical Description
xxii, 314 pages, 8 unnumbered pages of plates : illustrations (some color), maps ; 24 cm
Bibliography
Includes bibliographical references (pages [287]-302) and index.
ISBN
9780062304766
0062304763
Main Author
Adam H. Sobel, 1967- (author)
Review by Booklist Reviews

Two years after Hurricane Sandy struck the Eastern Seaboard, flooding lower Manhattan and parts of Atlantic City, coastal residents are still cleaning up and rebuilding homes, while meteorologists and city planners contemplate what lessons can be learned from the natural disaster. As both an environmental sciences professor at Columbia University and someone who witnessed the devastation firsthand from his New York City apartment, Sobel has the perfect vantage point to mull over those lessons and offer insights about preparing for the next "megastorm," as Sandy has been called. In 28 absorbing and instructive chapters, Sobel recounts the full history of the hurricane, including its warning signs and an explanation of the weather anomalies that forced Sandy to make a sudden left turn into the New Jersey coastline. He also explores the debate about how much climate change played a role in Sandy's devastating impact and examines how we can better respond to other extreme weather events. Must reading for earth-science and weather buffs and anyone living along the vulnerable passageways of potential future hurricanes. Copyright 2014 Booklist Reviews.

Review by Choice Reviews

Sobel (earth and environmental sciences, Columbia Univ., NY) uses the development and aftermath of a single weather event, Superstorm Sandy, as a jumping off point for a very accessible account of the physics, practice, and history of both tropical (the usual realm of hurricanes) and extra-tropical meteorology.  The book covers most aspects of modern meteorology from a nontechnical point of view.  The fact that Sandy was on the cusp of transforming from a tropical storm to an extra-tropical storm when it hit the US is highly significant because confusion over its classification may have affected the immediate preparations and subsequent response.  The actual daily forecast discussions on Sandy's development form the backbone of the book with a chapter devoted to each day.  Relevant vocabulary and physical principles are developed and treated in an intuitive manner.  Interspersed are chapters going into more detail on such topics as the physical foundations and history of meteorology and weather forecasting, the role of models, attempts at natural hazard engineering, and the role of the storm surge.  The last part of the book is a standard consensus discourse on global warming.  Aimed at a general audience with some background in basic physics, this would be a great supplementary text to add relevance to an undergraduate meteorology course. Summing Up: Recommended. General readers and lower-level undergraduates. --T. N. Chase, University of Colorado Thomas N. Chase University of Colorado http://dx.doi.org/10.5860/CHOICE.190264 Copyright 2014 American Library Association.

Review by Library Journal Reviews

Sobel is uniquely suited to write about Hurricane Sandy, the 2012 storm that hit the New York area. Beyond the author's credentials as accomplished atmospheric scientist and Columbia University professor, he is also a native New Yorker. This book fascinates in part because of its temporal shifts: Sobel's narrative of the developing cyclone is shown in "real time," which includes actual uppercase forecasts from the National Hurricane Center. The author looks back to explain some of the key discoveries in meteorology and forward to surmise what a warming planet could mean for future weather events. The work's simple two-part organization aids comprehension: the first alternates hurricane reports with chapters on the physics of cyclones and their prediction. The teacher in Sobel appreciates the utility of breaking hard science into smaller, more digestible bits, while the writer in him recognizes the drama of catastrophe. The second part deals with the thorny issue of hurricanes and climate change and reports on some amazing engineering solutions to the problem of rising seas. VERDICT Sobel presents rigorous science and acronyms and terminology abound (e.g., MJO, NAO, FFT, SST, Baroclinic effect, Coriolis force, Fujiwhara effect). But even without a glossary, the author makes complex subject matter intelligible and intriguing.—Robert Eagan, Windsor P.L., Ont. [Page 112]. (c) Copyright 2014. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Review by Library Journal Reviews

Sobel, an atmospheric scientist and professor at Columbia University, documents Hurricane Sandy, which devastated the shoreline of New Jersey and New York in 2012. He presents information on the development of the storm itself, contrasting it with how hurricanes have historically developed to identify how climate change may be influencing the weather systems' growth today. What it all portends is examined, too, as overall heating of water helps future hurricanes morph into even stronger storms. (LJ 11/1/14) [Page 55]. (c) Copyright 2014. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Review by Publishers Weekly Reviews

Hurricane Sandy hit metropolitan New York hard in October 2012, knocking out power while ruining homes and businesses; it turned parts of Manhattan into swampland, flooded subway stations and transit tunnels, and devastated much of the Jersey shore. Though the damage it caused is irrefutable, the cause of the hurricane itself, says Columbia University atmospheric scientist Sobel, is up for debate. In this comprehensive volume, he looks at the science behind Sandy (and similar weather systems), examining the circumstances leading to it—"the left turn it took" in the ocean in "a radical departure from all known meteorological history"—and factors that made it a superstorm. How did it complete "its transition from a tropical cyclone to a mammoth hybrid"? Sobel diligently re-creates a timeline, from the early warnings issued by the National Hurricane Center to government evacuation orders to the impact Sandy had once it made landfall. Along the way, he provides substantial background information on what, exactly, a hurricane is and how the Fujiwhara effect—named for Japanese meteorologist Sakuhei Fujiwhara—applies to dueling vortices. Topics like these make for interesting, if technical, reading, and Sobel manages to strike an effective balance. (Oct.) [Page ]. Copyright 2014 PWxyz LLC

Review by PW Annex Reviews

Hurricane Sandy hit metropolitan New York hard in October 2012, knocking out power while ruining homes and businesses; it turned parts of Manhattan into swampland, flooded subway stations and transit tunnels, and devastated much of the Jersey shore. Though the damage it caused is irrefutable, the cause of the hurricane itself, says Columbia University atmospheric scientist Sobel, is up for debate. In this comprehensive volume, he looks at the science behind Sandy (and similar weather systems), examining the circumstances leading to it—"the left turn it took" in the ocean in "a radical departure from all known meteorological history"—and factors that made it a superstorm. How did it complete "its transition from a tropical cyclone to a mammoth hybrid"? Sobel diligently re-creates a timeline, from the early warnings issued by the National Hurricane Center to government evacuation orders to the impact Sandy had once it made landfall. Along the way, he provides substantial background information on what, exactly, a hurricane is and how the Fujiwhara effect—named for Japanese meteorologist Sakuhei Fujiwhara—applies to dueling vortices. Topics like these make for interesting, if technical, reading, and Sobel manages to strike an effective balance. (Oct.) [Page ]. Copyright 2014 PWxyz LLC

Review by Publisher Summary 1

Examines the devastating and unprecedented events of Hurricane Sandy, using it to explain the Earth's changing climate and how to protect cities and coastal areas from the effects of huge storms.

Review by Publisher Summary 2

An award-winning scientist explains how the extreme example of Hurricane Sandy reflects the planet's changing climate, outlining what individuals need to do to protect themselves and their cities. 35,000 first printing.

Review by Publisher Summary 3

A renowned scientist takes us through the devastating and unprecedented events of Hurricane Sandy, using it to explain our planet's changing climate, and what we need to do to protect ourselves and our cities for the future.Was Hurricane Sandy a freak event'or a harbinger of things to come?  Was climate change responsible?  What connects the spiraling clouds our satellites saw from space, the brackish water that rose up over the city's seawalls, and the slow simmer of greenhouse gases? Why weren't we better prepared?In this fascinating and accessible work of popular science, atmospheric scientist and Columbia University professor Adam Sobel addresses these questions, combining scientific explanation with first-hand experience of the event itself.He explains the remarkable atmospheric conditions that gave birth to Sandy and determined its path. He gives us insight into the sophisticated science that led to the forecasts of the storm before it hit, as well as an understanding of why our meteorological vocabulary failed our leaders in warning us about this unprecedented storm'part hurricane, part winter-type nor'easter, fully deserving of the title 'superstorm."Storm Surge brings together the melting glaciers, the shifting jet streams, and the warming oceans to make clear how our changing climate will make New York and other cities more vulnerable than ever to huge storms'and how we need to think differently about these long-term risks if we hope to mitigate the damage. Engaging, informative, and timely, Sobel's book provokes us to rethink the future of our climate and how we can better prepare for the storms to come.

Review by Publisher Summary 4

A renowned scientist takes us through the devastating and unprecedented events of Hurricane Sandy, using it to explain our planet’s changing climate, and what we need to do to protect ourselves and our cities for the future.Was Hurricane Sandy a freak event—or a harbinger of things to come?  Was climate change responsible?  What connects the spiraling clouds our satellites saw from space, the brackish water that rose up over the city’s seawalls, and the slow simmer of greenhouse gases? Why weren't we better prepared?In this fascinating and accessible work of popular science, atmospheric scientist and Columbia University professor Adam Sobel addresses these questions, combining scientific explanation with first-hand experience of the event itself.He explains the remarkable atmospheric conditions that gave birth to Sandy and determined its path. He gives us insight into the sophisticated science that led to the forecasts of the storm before it hit, as well as an understanding of why our meteorological vocabulary failed our leaders in warning us about this unprecedented storm—part hurricane, part winter-type nor’easter, fully deserving of the title “Superstorm.”Storm Surge brings together the melting glaciers, the shifting jet streams, and the warming oceans to make clear how our changing climate will make New York and other cities more vulnerable than ever to huge storms—and how we need to think differently about these long-term risks if we hope to mitigate the damage. Engaging, informative, and timely, Sobel’s book provokes us to rethink the future of our climate and how we can better prepare for the storms to come.