Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, doi:10.1073/pnas.1308732110.
Elizabeth A. Barnes
Department of Atmospheric Sciences, Colorado State University, Fort Collins, CO.
Lorenzo M. Polvani and Adam H. Sobel
Department of Applied Physics and Applied Mathematics and Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences, Columbia University, New York, NY.
Superstorm Sandy ravaged the eastern seaboard of the United States, costing a great number of lives and billions of dollars in damage. Whether events like Sandy will become more frequent as anthropogenic greenhouse gases continue to increase remains an open and complex question. Here we consider whether the persistent large-scale atmospheric patterns that steered Sandy onto the coast will become more frequent in the coming decades. Using the Coupled Model Intercomparison Project, phase 5 multimodel ensemble, we demonstrate that climate models consistently project a decrease in the frequency and persistence of the westward flow that led to Sandy's unprecedented track, implying that future atmospheric conditions are less likely than at present to propel storms westward into the coast.