Study: Climate change makes ‘Katrina magnitude events’ more likely

Updated
James Traina climbs over the remains of his parent's house which was destroyed by Superstorm Sandy in Staten Island, N.Y. Friday, Nov. 2, 2012.
James Traina climbs over the remains of his parent's house which was destroyed by Superstorm Sandy in Staten Island, N.Y. Friday, Nov. 2, 2012.
AP Photo/Seth Wenig

Shortly after Superstorm Sandy pulverized the American Northeast, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo told reporters, “There’s a frequency in these extreme weather conditions, it’s getting worse, it’s getting worse all over the globe, getting worse all over the country, and I think we have to accept the reality.” Now, yet another study suggests he might be right.

A new study from climatologist Aslak Grinsted finds that “a 1 °C rise in global temperature” could result in “a twofold to sevenfold increase in the frequency of Katrina magnitude events”—with the Eastern seaboard being particularly vulnerable.

That means so-called “storms of the century” could become routine for those regions of the country which still bear the scars of Hurricanes Katrina, Irene and Sandy. But while entire metropolitan areas are threatened, the measures taken to protect residents have been decidedly lopsided. In New York City, for example, private real estate owners in the wealthy Financial District have upgraded their properties to make them storm-resistant, while lower-income New Yorkers in nearby public housing are just as vulnerable as ever.

The class disparity in climate change preparedness has the potential to reshape cities in unpredictable ways. As Demos’ Mijin Cha writes, “there is literally no aspect of our economy that won’t be impacted by climate change. Not to mention the population changes that will occur because people don’t want to live in storm centers and the reduced property values from continual storm damage.”

Study: Climate change makes 'Katrina magnitude events' more likely

Updated