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Global warming and sea ice loss made Hurricane Sandy worse, study says

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Gov. Cuomo tours Sandy damage on Long Island. Photo via <a href="">NY Governor's Office on Flickr</a>.
Gov. Cuomo tours Sandy damage on Long Island. Photo via NY Governor's Office on Flickr.

Parts of the Northeast are still recovering from the damage caused by Hurricane Sandy's arrival last October. As they continue to pick up the pieces, a new study reveals that the storm was worsened by the effects of global warming, namely a loss of Arctic sea ice.

Storm made worse by record-breaking Arctic ice melt

Scientists at Cornell University and Rutgers studied Sandy's formation and path and concluded that several climate change-related factors influenced the storm. One was record-breaking melt of Arctic sea ice during the summer before the storm, which increased the unpredictability of the jet stream. That led to more Arctic air flowing south. The loss of ice also strengthened an atmospheric blocking event, which steered the storm toward the populated Northeast coast, instead of out to sea as most previous October tropical storms.

The study, which appears in the March edition of the journal Oceanography, seems to vindicate the controversial public remaks made in its immediate aftermath by New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg and New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo, who both said climate change was at least partly responsible for the storm's intensity.