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INSTITUTE INDEX: Superstorm Sandy's climate wake-up call

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Death toll so far from Hurricane Sandy: 165

Number of those deaths in the United States: 96

Width in miles of Sandy, the largest Atlantic hurricane on record: 1,100

Width in miles of Hurricane Katrina, which hit the U.S. Gulf Coast in August 2006: 415

Sandy's estimated economic toll in the U.S. alone: $50 billion

Height in feet of Sandy's record-breaking storm surge into New York Harbor: 14

Number of days the U.S. stock market closed because of Sandy: 2

Last time the stock market closed for that long for weather-related reasons: 1888

Date on which Mark Fischetti of Scientific American posted a blog entry in which he quoted many credentialed experts willing to say climate change was a factor that contributed to Sandy's impact: 10/30/2012

Inches by which sea levels have risen globally in the past century, a trend blamed on warmer temperates causing ice to melt and oceans to expand: 8

Number of times faster than the global average that sea level is rising along the U.S. Atlantic Coast from Cape Hatteras, N.C. to Boston due to disruption of ocean currents caused by melting of the Greenland Ice Sheet: 4

Inches sea level is expected to rise along North Carolina's coast over the next century, according to a state commission staffed by marine scientists, geologists and engineers: 39

Date on which the North Carolina legislature passed a law prohibiting the state from acknowledging the commission's sea rise estimate over concerns about its impact on coastal development: 7/3/2012

Year in which Virginia lawmakers voted to allow a state study on the rising ocean's coastal impacts to begin only after removing all references to "climate change" and "sea level rise," because conservatives regard them as liberal buzzwords: 2012

Degrees Celsius above normal that sea surface temperatures along the Atlantic Coast from Florida to Canada have been running this year: 3

Percentage of that temperature increase that scientists attribute to global warming: 20

With every degree Celsius the temperature climbs, percentage that the atmosphere's water-holding capacity rises: 7

Rank of September 2012 among the warmest Septembers since records began in 1880, considering average global land and ocean surface temperatures combined: 1*

In a recent study of Atlantic hurricane surge threats since 1923, estimated factor by which Hurricane Katrina-magnitude events are more frequent in warm years than cold years: 2

According to a report issued last month by the world's largest reinsurance firm, rank of North America among the continents where the number of annual disasters has risen most sharply since 1980: 1

Average annual insured losses from disasters in North America in the 1980s: $9 billion

By the 2000s: $36 billion

Date on which Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney, who has expressed skepticism about human-caused climate change, joked in a speech, "President Obama promised to begin to slow the rise of the oceans, and to heal the planet. My promise is to help you and your family": 8/30/2012

Date on which New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, a political independent who previously said he would not make a presidential endorsement, said Sandy reshaped his thinking and announced he was backing President Obama: 11/1/2012

Date by which world governments, including the United States, are scheduled to come up with a new treaty to reduce carbon emissions that cause global warming: 2015

Date by which that treaty is scheduled to take effect: 2020

* Tied with September 2005.

(Click on figure to go to source.)

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