How unique was Hurricane Sandy? Sedimentary reconstructions of extreme flooding from New York Harbor
Brandon, Christine M.
Woodruff, Jonathan D.
Donnelly, Jeffrey P.
Sullivan, Richard M.
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The magnitude of flooding in New York City by Hurricane Sandy is commonly believed to be extremely rare, with estimated return periods near or greater than 1000 years. However, the brevity of tide gauge records result in significant uncertainties when estimating the uniqueness of such an event. Here we compare resultant deposition by Hurricane Sandy to earlier storm-induced flood layers in order to extend records of flooding to the city beyond the instrumental dataset. Inversely modeled storm conditions from grain size trends show that a more compact yet more intense hurricane in 1821 CE probably resulted in a similar storm tide and a significantly larger storm surge. Our results indicate the occurrence of additional flood events like Hurricane Sandy in recent centuries, and highlight the inadequacies of the instrumental record in estimating current flood risk by such extreme events.
© The Author(s), 2014. This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License. The definitive version was published in Scientific Reports 4 (2014): 7366, doi:10.1038/srep07366.
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