October 25, 2002
HIS WONDERS TO PERFORM:Study Finds Storm Cycles Etched in Lake Beds (ANDREW C. REVKIN, October 25, 2002, NY Times)
Four times since the last ice age, at intervals roughly 3,000 years apart, the Northeast has been struck by cycles of storms far more powerful than any in recent times, according to a new study. The region appears to have entered a fifth era in which such superstorms are more likely, the researchers say.
No one should necessarily start building dikes right away, say the researchers, who reported their work yesterday in the journal Nature. The stormy periods they identified each lasted a millennium or more, and giant floods occurred only sporadically in those stretches.
Still, the work illustrates that natural extremes of weather - what one researcher, Paul R. Bierman, a geologist at the University of Vermont, called a "drumbeat of storminess" - are many times greater than those experienced in the modern era. [...]
"This shows that in human experience, at least historical human experience, we don't know what this climate system is capable of," Dr. Steig said.
While revealing the rising potential for epic storms, the new findings are likely to confound efforts to discern whether human alterations of the atmosphere, particularly a buildup of heat-trapping greenhouse gases, are increasing the frequency of severe downpours, as many climate experts have predicted.
What are the odds that the editorial page writers of the Times even read the Science pages and will ever shut up about greenhouse gases? Posted by Orrin Judd at October 25, 2002 8:08 PM