The competition, now in its 48th year, features powerful images of nature (and sometimes its destruction), including a moonset at sunrise, a polar bear stranded on an ice floe and endangered Bengal tigers.
One-hundred winning photographs were culled from 48,000 entries from 98 countries.
"Into the mouth of the caiman" by Luciano Candisani from Brazil
Motionless but alert, a yacare caiman waits, ‘like a small tyrannosaurus’ for fish to come within snapping reach, says Luciano.
Caimans are usually seen floating passively on the surface. Under the water, it’s another story. It’s this secret life that has fascinated Luciano ever since he first came face to face with a caiman while snorkelling. Once he’d recovered from the shock, he realised that the reptile was neither aggressive nor fearful – and that he could approach it. Luciano now regularly documents the underwater life of caimans in the shallow, murky waters of Brazil’s Pantanal (the biggest wetland in the world), which contains the largest single crocodilian population on Earth.
Caimans can grow to be three metres in length. Most aren’t aggressive, but some individuals can be. ‘The safest way to get close is when they are concentrating on a shoal of fish,’ says Luciano. ‘While I was concentrating on this caiman emerging from the gloom, I had a field biologist with me all the time.’ The result was ‘the picture that’s been in my imagination since my father first showed me a caiman 25 years ago.’
Luciano Candisani /Veolia Environment Wildlife Photographer of the Year 2012
"Dog days" by Kim Wolhuter of South Africa.
Kim has been filming African wild dogs at Zimbabwe’s Malilangwe Wildlife Reserve for more than four years. He knows one pack intimately. ‘I have travelled with them, on foot, in the pack itself, running with them as they hunt. It’s a privilege, and it’s given me a true insight into their life.’
Kim has also witnessed first hand the many threats that have made African wild dogs endangered, including increased conflict with humans and domestic animals (poachers’ snares, habitat loss, traffic and disease). ‘At times, it’s heart- wrenching,’ he says. ‘My mission is to dispel the myth that they’re a threat and help raise awareness of their plight.’
African wild dogs require huge territories, and so protecting them can protect entire ecosystems. When this picture was taken, the pack had travelled four kilometres to the Sosigi Pan, only to find it totally dried up. ‘The mosaic of mud seemed to epitomise the increasingly fragmented world this puppy is growing up in.’
Kim Wolhuter/Veolia Environment Wildlife Photographer of the Year 2012
"The eye of the baitball" by Cristóbal Serrano of Spain
Cristóbal found this great circling shoal of grunt fish in the Sea of Cortez, Mexico, and watched it over two days. He would dive down and then sit on the sandy bottom some 20 metres below the surface to watch.
‘With the sky behind the fish ball,’ he says, ‘it looked like a shimmering body of energy. I just needed a focal point to get the picture I was after.’ A pelagic cormorant was also watching the fish, and now and then it would shoot a hole through the ever-tightening baitball (tightening in response to the predator), making it easier for it to pick off individual fish.
Cristóbal tried to predict the angle that the cormorant would use. After many attempts, using a fisheye lens and strobes to illuminate the fish and the sandy bottom, he got the shot.
Cristóbal Serrano/Veolia Environment Wildlife Photographer of the Year 2012
A sinkhole occurs when an area of ground collapses, creating holes that can swallow up swimming pools, roads, buildings and people.
The United States Geological Survey describes three different categories of sinkholes based on how they are created: dissolution, cover-subsidence and cover-collapse sinkholes.
In all three, erosion of land is caused by minerals washed away by water over time.
The most dangerous type of sink hole, and the ones we usually see in the news, are cover-collapse sink holes. The erosion of land occurs underground, creating a cavity under streets, sidewalks or buildings. Eventually the ground suddenly collapses since there's nothing underneath holding it up.
Here are some of the most incredible examples of sudden sinkholes.
The Qattara Depression in Egypt: Located west of Cairo, this massive dent is 440 feet below sea level at its lowest point, with a length of 186 miles and a width of 95 miles.
The scientists were put on trial after 309 people died in an April 6, 2009 magnitude 6.3 earthquake in the town of L'Aquila, Italy.
They will also have to pay financial compensation of about $130,000 to the families of 29 people named in the lawsuit who died in the earthquake, Nature reports.
Earthquake prediction isn't possible, but previous studies had found that about half of bigger quakes in Italy were preceded by swarms of smaller earthquakes. That sounds like a good indicator, but the truth is that there are many more of these small swarms than big earthquakes, and only 2 percent of small swarms preceded bigger quakes.
The six scientists and Department of Civil Protection official Bernardo De Bernardinis sit on Italy's Major Risks Committee, which is supposed to assess the risk of potential natural disasters. They were put on trial for manslaughter for failing to make the local government and citizenry fully aware of the possibility of a large quake during a March 31 meeting in L'Aquila. During that meeting one of the researchers, Enzo Boschi, called a large earthquake "unlikely," but warned that the possibility could not be excluded.
Bernardinis took the scientists' information and in a press conference told the town that there was "no danger," of a possible larger earthquake. Prosecutors were asking for a sentence of four years, though it seems Judge Marco Billi thought that sentence was too light.
The scientists sentenced today include Boschi, who is the president of Italy's National Institute of Geophysics and Volcanology; Claudio Eva, an earth scientist at the University of Genoa; Giulio Selvaggi, director of the National Earthquake Center; Franco Barberi, a volcanologist at the University of Rome; Mauro Dolce, head of the seismic risk office of the Civil Protection; Gian Michele Calvi, director of the European Centre for Training and Research in Earthquake Engineering.
Government official De Bernardinis, who is the President of the Institute for Environmental Research and Protection, was also included in the sentence.
The judge said that the information these scientists provided to the committee was "inexact, incomplete and contradictory," the Italian media are reporting.
"The basis for those indictments appears to be that the scientists failed to alert the population of L'Aquila of an impending earthquake. However, there is no way they could have done that credibly ... There is no accepted scientific method for earthquake prediction that can be reliably used to warn citizens of an impending disaster."
The icy body of water, which had not been exposed to air for some 20 million years, is called Lake Vostok.
There were nearly a dozen theories about what Lake Vostok may hold. But mainly, researchers were excited about finding new lifeforms. The microbes found in Lake Vostok could provide clues about life on Jupiter's moon Europa since scientists believe the two entities have similar environments.
So far, no dice.
An analysis of some water that froze in a drill bit back in February reveals no signs of life — at least not yet. This conclusion is based on "very preliminary results" announced at the 12th European Workshop on Astrobiology, reports Brian Owens of Nature News Blog.
This does not mean researchers have abandoned hope. The team plans to drill to even deeper depths on their next visit in December.
"Blood rain" does not actually involve any blood, but gets its name from the red color of the raindrops.
So what causes the rose-colored weather phenomenon?
"It is a rather grandiose term for fine desert sand particles that are whipped up by winds and mix with the moisture in clouds," a Met Office spokesman told BBC.
Storms in the Sahara desert, which is around 2,000 miles away, has stirred up sand all the way to the UK. When the sand is mixed with rain, it gives it a red color. When the rain dries off, a remaining thin layer of dust can coat the streets, houses, and everything else in red.
The ozone hole above the Antarctic has hit its maximum extent for the year. Due to warm temperatures, the opening in the protective atmospheric layer was the second smallest it has been for 20 years, scientists said Wednesday (Oct. 24).
Stretching to 8.2 million square miles (21.2 million square kilometers), an area roughly the size of all of North America, the ozone hole reached its peak on Sept. 22. The largest one recorded to date spanned 11.5 million square miles (29.9 million square km) in 2000.
On the Earth's surface, ozone is a pollutant, but in the stratosphere, it reflects ultraviolet radiation back into space, protecting us from skin cancer-causing UV rays.
Scientists say the hole in this protective ozone layer mainly is caused by chlorine from man-made chemicals called chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs), which were created in the early 20th century and used in products like spray cans. CFCs, which destroy ozone, are believed to linger in the stratosphere for decades.
Air temperature can affect the rate at which these CFCs break apart ozone molecules. Years with large ozone holes are generally associated with very cold winters over Antarctica and high polar winds, the scientists say.
Researchers with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) said the gouge, which forms in September and October, was smaller this year because of warmer air temperatures high above the South Pole.
"It happened to be a bit warmer this year high in the atmosphere above Antarctica, and that meant we didn't see quite as much ozone depletion as we saw last year, when it was colder," said Jim Butler with NOAA's Earth System Research Laboratory in Boulder, Colo.
The Antarctic ozone hole was first discovered in the late 1970s. The gash continued to grow steadily during the 1980s and 90s, though since early 2000 the growth reportedly leveled off. Scientists, however, have seen large variability in its size from year to year.
Although the production of ozone-depleting chemicals has been regulated for the past 25 years, scientists say it could be another decade before we start seeing early signs of Antarctic ozone layer recovery. NASA atmospheric chemist Paul Newman has estimated that the ozone layer above Antarctica likely will not return to its early 1980s state until about 2060.
There are many different scenarios for the storm, but several models show Hurricane Sandy on track to hit major metro areas including Washington D.C., New York City and Boston.
The MTA says it already has a plan for where to store buses and deal with trains in the event of flooding, the New York Post's Jennifer Fermino reports. They have not made plans to shutter the transit system.
Mayor Michael Bloomberg advised New York City residents in flood-prone areas to "be prepared to evacuate" in a meeting with the Office of Emergency Management today, WNYC reports.
Fortunately, weather forecasting has come a long way since 1974 and experts are watching Sandy closely. The hurricane is expected to move through the Bahamas tomorrow and become a monster nor'easter by the time it hits the U.S. East Coast early next week.
This storm could be the second coming of Hurricane Irene, which was predicted to slam into New York City in August of 2011. It could end up being stronger when it makes landfall — current predictions suggest the winds could reach 70 miles per hour.
Tropical cyclones — the scientific name for hurricanes and tropical storms — form when warm air above the ocean rises. More air from the surrounding areas of higher pressure push in under this rising air, pushing it up and cooling it. The entire system just keeps growing and starts to swirl.
After several severe hurricanes, and two of the most productive hurricane seasons on record, we started to wonder — What makes hurricanes strong and destructive? Are hurricanes getting worse or is it just us? Why and what can we do about it? What if we don't?
The next great natural disaster may be headed straight for us. And it might just be named Sandy.
First, let's revisit the past with the greatest hurricane to his the US in decades: Hurricane Katrina. From a scientific standpoint, Katrina was a Category 3 hurricane with maximum sustained winds of 125 mph when it hit New Orleans on Aug. 29. 2005. This is a strong hurricane, but not atypical.
Katrina wasn't as fast as, say, Hurricane Camille in 1969. But it was huge and its approach over shallow water resulted in a devastating storm surge.
There were also engineering problems. Katrina was especially damaging because the levees designed to protect the below-sea-level city burst under the hurricane's 25-foot high storm surge.
An incredible number of tornadoes hit 13 states: Alabama, Georgie, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Michigan, Mississippi, North Carolina, Ohio, South Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia, and West Virginia.
According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the technology of 1974 was not able to quickly and accurately predict tornadoes. The National Weather Service needed visual confirmation of a tornado in order to issue a warning, which resulted in an incredible amount of damage.
Even with current warning systems, as Cantore alluded to in his tweet, disastrous tornado storms still happen. From April 25 through 28 in 2011 the largest tornado outbreak ever recorded tore through the Southern, Midwestern, and Northeastern United States. 358 tornadoes were confirmed by the National Weather Service in 21 states from Texas to New York and in southern Canada causing an insane amount of damage.
During the Super Outbreak 148 tornadoes touched down in 13 states.
Walking down New York City's urban streets, the only animals we notice are the people. Sometimes we'll get a glimpse of a rat, mouse or pigeon.
But the urban world around you is also teeming with other wildlife, according to evolutionary biologist Jason Munshi-South, who discussed urban evolution and the wild beasts that live in New York City at this month's Secret Science Club.
In order to monitor what species are living in the area, motion sensor infrared cameras were set up in the New York Botanical Garden in the Bronx over a three month period. These cameras captured coyotes, squirrels, raccoons, and more.
While some species are rarer, or even suffered local extinctions, some species are adapting and surviving under these urban pressures. Click through the slides to see the animals that are all around us.
You may notice rats are not mentioned in the slideshow and that's because they are abundant, vicious, and smell bad so Munshi-South avoids them like the plague. He's also done a ton of research into the mice of the city, and how they've adapted to city life genetically.
Squirrels are so abundant, they make up 70 to 80 percent of all the pictures taken by Munshi-South's motion sensor cameras.
Rabbits are common and were also captured often on the motion sensor camera.
Coyotes are becoming increasingly abundant. These coyotes are larger than ones from the West Coast. Researchers believe this is because they mated with wolves in Canada while migrating here.
Click here for all of our Hurricane Sandy coverage.
Residents in Zone A face the highest risk of flooding from a hurricane's storm surge. Zone A includes all low-lying coastal areas and other areas that could experience storm surge in ANY hurricane that makes landfall close to New York City.
Residents in Zone B may experience storm surge flooding from a MODERATE (Category 2 or higher) hurricane.
Residents in Zone C may experience storm surge flooding from a MAJOR hurricane (Category 3 & 4) making landfall just south of New York City. A major hurricane is unlikely in New York City, but not impossible.
Where has the US's worries about climate change talk gone? For the first time since 1988, it wasn't brought up in at least one presidential debate of this year's election cycle. Now, when it comes to hard hitting reporting, someone's got the ask the tough questions. It just isn't usually MTV doing the asking.
"I believe the scientists, who say that we are putting too much carbon emissions into the atmosphere and it's heating the planet and it's going to have a severe effects," he said.
He went on to talk about changes he's made in the last four years, including clean energy production and requiring increased fuel efficiency in cars. He mentions also that we need to increase building energy efficiency, as a way to meet his 17 percent decrease in emissions promised in Kyoto.
Are his answers enough? Will the mollify the environmentally concerned crowds? Who knows. But at least the question finally got asked.
See the clip below:
Mitt Romney and President Obama both answered climate questions posed by Science Debate earlier this year. They provided written answers on September 4, 2012, but the two candidates didn't debate the issue in person.
"... there remains a lack of scientific consensus on the issue — on the extent of the warming, the extent of the human contribution, and the severity of the risk — and I believe we must support continued debate and investigation within the scientific community," he wrote in response to the question.
The huge superstorm Sandy has left a path of destruction across the Eastern seaboard and everyone's wondering — was this insanely intense storm that some are calling a once a century event related to climate change?
Some researchers will say yes, it's likely that the two are related. Their theory goes that warmer waters inject more energy into tropical storms — so climate change could very well be to blame for the increasing incidence of large and dangerous storms. These warmer waters could also be making the hurricanes form faster, recent studies have suggested.
An earlier study, published in Geophysical Research Letters in May, also suggested the rising ocean temperatures are increasing the intensity of storms. The researchers, led by Dev Niyogi of Purdue University, used satellite data from the last 25 years to see if these tropical cyclones are changing over time. They found that the storms are tending to intensify quicker, and they end up being higher category storms.
A third study, led by James Elsner, of Florida State University, looked at hurricane data from across the world between 1981 and 2006. They published their data in the journal Nature in 2008. They found a 31 percent increase in strong storms (those in the top fifth in a ranking of storms by their intensities), from 13 to 17 strong cyclones for a 1.8º F rise in ocean temperature.
This could be one reason why this year's hurricane season has been so bad — with 19 named storms. We are even running out of names and still have a whole month left in which more storms can form. This year we've also set thousands of high temperature records, and it has been named "the hottest year on record" in the United States.
This doesn't mean that warm water is the only thing that makes hurricanes strong, but it's one factor that may be influencing the trend toward stronger and larger storms. Sandy, for instance, was also impacted by the full moon, which increased high tides — though there's no doubt this was an incredibly large, dangerous storm even without the moon.
This was partially because of the presence of a snow storm coming from the West that has had a big effect on how the storm progresses. It's currently parked on the East coast, sending feet of snow down in Western Virginia. Hopefully the storm will head North soon.
As I wrote in August: "If hurricanes get bigger, stronger and more frequent, one nightmare scenario may just become a reality: Thousands of lives could be lost and billions of dollars of damage done if a large, strong hurricane made landfall in New York City, the way Hurricane Irene did in 2011."
Those words seem sadly prophetic, now that that's what Sandy has become. Let's hope these monster East coast storms don't become a frequent event, though the melting Arctic sea ice could increase sea temperatures even higher, influencing our weather here.
This year, the Arctic sea ice reached its lowest levels on record. This melt is just going to get worse, researchers predict.
If we end up having a summer in which all the sea ice in the Arctic melts, it could have a major impact on storms and the strength of our winters. Some researchers have suggested that this could even happen within the next decade. The sea ice, when it's there, cools down the waters because it reflects sunlight away from the oceans. If the ice is gone, the dark waters will absorb more sunlight, and the ocean will get even warmer.
This spiral of warming could mean more spiraling tropical cyclones in the future.
WASHINGTON (AP) — Climate scientist Michael Oppenheimer stood along the Hudson River and watched his research come to life as Hurricane Sandy blew through New York.
Just eight months earlier, the Princeton University professor reported that what used to be once-in-a-century devastating floods in New York City would soon happen every three to 20 years. He blamed global warming for pushing up sea levels and changing hurricane patterns.
New York "is now highly vulnerable to extreme hurricane-surge flooding," he wrote.
For more than a dozen years, Oppenheimer and other climate scientists have been warning about the risk for big storms and serious flooding in New York. A 2000 federal report about global warming's effect on the United States warned specifically of that possibility.
Still, they say it's unfair to blame climate change for Sandy and the destruction it left behind. They cautioned that they cannot yet conclusively link a single storm to global warming, and any connection is not as clear and simple as environmental activists might contend.
"The ingredients of this storm seem a little bit cooked by climate change, but the overall storm is difficult to attribute to global warming," Canada's University of Victoria climate scientist Andrew Weaver said.
Some individual parts of Sandy and its wrath seem to be influenced by climate change, several climate scientists said.
First, there's sea level rise. Water levels around New York are a nearly a foot higher than they were 100 years ago, said Penn State University climate scientist Michael Mann.
Add to that the temperature of the Atlantic Ocean, which is about 2 degrees warmer on average than a century ago, said Katharine Hayhoe, a climate scientist at Texas Tech University. Warm water fuels hurricanes.
And Sandy zipped north along a warmer-than-normal Gulf Stream that travels from the Caribbean to Ireland, said Jeff Masters, meteorology director for the private service Weather Underground.
Meteorologists are also noticing more hurricanes late in the season and even after the season. A 2008 study said the Atlantic hurricane season seems to be starting earlier and lasting longer but found no explicit link to global warming. Normally there are 11 named Atlantic storms. The past two years have seen 19 and 18 named storms. This year, with one month to go, there are 19.
After years of disagreement, climate scientists and hurricane experts have concluded that as the climate warms, there will be fewer total hurricanes. But those storms that do develop will be stronger and wetter.
Sandy took an unprecedented sharp left turn into New Jersey. Usually storms keep heading north and turn east harmlessly out to sea. But a strong ridge of high pressure centered over Greenland blocked Sandy from going north or east, according to the National Hurricane Center.
Jennifer Francis of Rutgers University, an expert in how a warming Arctic affects extreme weather patterns, said recent warming in the Arctic may have played a role in enlarging or prolonging that high pressure area. But she cautioned it's not clear whether the warming really had that influence on Sandy.
While components of Sandy seem connected to global warming, "mostly it's natural, I'd say it's 80, 90 percent natural," said Gerald North, a climate professor at Texas A&M University. "These things do happen, like the drought. It's a natural thing."
On Tuesday, both New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Gov. Andrew Cuomo said they couldn't help but notice that extreme events like Sandy are causing them more and more trouble.
"What is clear is that the storms that we've experienced in the last year or so, around this country and around the world, are much more severe than before," Bloomberg said. "Whether that's global warming or what, I don't know. But we'll have to address those issues."
Cuomo called the changes "a new reality."
"Anyone who says that there's not a dramatic change in weather patterns I think is denying reality," Cuomo said. "I told the president the other day: 'We have a 100-year flood every two years now.'"
For his published research, Oppenheimer looked at New York City's record flood of 1821. Sandy flooded even higher. This week's damage was augmented by the past century's sea level rise, which was higher than the world average because of unusual coastal geography and ocean currents. Oppenheimer walked from his Manhattan home to the river Monday evening to watch the storm.
"We sort of knew it could happen, but you know that's different from actually standing there and watching it happen," Oppenheimer said from a cell phone. "You don't really imagine what this looks like until you see it."
Associated Press writers Jennifer Peltz and Malcolm Ritter in New York and Michael Gormley in Albany contributed to this report.
The best scientific evidence shows that global climate change is caused by burning fossil fuels (oil, coal, and natural gas), which emit carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases into the atmosphere.
These greenhouse gases act like a bubble around the Earth, trapping heat in, and in turn, causing temperatures to rise on the planet's surface. This phenomenon can be observed through shrinking glaciers, thawing of permafrost, rising sea levels and, yes stronger storms.
Although climate change did not cause the storm, a growing number of researchers say that climate change increases the severity of hurricanes, including stronger storm surges like the one in Manhattan. This on top of rising sea levels, which will leave many cities, including New York, partially underwater, means just one thing: To save our cities, we need to slow climate change.
To moderate the effects of climate change we must start by lowering greenhouse gas emissions, which involves investing in clean and renewable energies.
Renewable energy is energy that comes from natural resources such as sunlight, wind, tides and geothermal heat. Unlike oil, these energy sources won't run out (although some are highly unpredictable) and carbon-neutral, so they don't contribute to climate change.
We aren't just talking wind turbines and solar panels, though. People around the world are developing innovative and sometimes strange ways to decrease their dependence on oil and gas.
Wave Snakes use the natural up-and-down motion of waves to generate electricity.
The 460-foot long, British-made floating tubes represent the world's first commercial-scale wave-power stations.
The snake-like power farms, which were first launched off the northern coast of Portugal in 2008 from the town of Aguçadoura, are an original concept in clean energy design.
The Wind Blimp is equipped with spinning blades to catch wind and generate energy.
Magenn Power Inc. developed its first wind blimp prototype in 2008. The MARS (Magenn Air Rotor System) is essentially an extremely lightweight wind turbine that is anchored to the ground by a tether. Helium is used to lift the blimp, which is equipped with spinning blades to catch wind, generating energy. The electricity is then transferred by the tether to either a power grid or batteries.
MARS has several advantages over other wind systems due to its size, weight, and the ability to operate in very light wind speeds. The blimp is transportable, easily deployed, and well-suited for off-site or remote locations. The floating wind turbine also has the potential to produce electricity at under $.20 per kWh versus $.50 cents to $.99 cents per kWh for diesel.
Archimede is the first solar power plant to use molten salts as a heat transfer fluid to store energy from the sun.
Location: Syracuse, Sicily.
On July 14, 2010, Italian utility Enel unveiled "Archimede," the world's first solar power plant to use molten salts as a heat transfer fluid. The system contains 30,000 square meters (320,000 square feet) of parabolic mirrors that concentrate solar rays onto 5,400 meters of high heat-resistant pipes that carry the fluid molten salt. The fluid is then collected in special tanks and used to produce steam, which eventually contributes to electricity generation.
The salts — a mixture of sodium and potassium nitrate — are an extremely efficient heat transfer mechanism. Unlike synthetic oils used in traditional concentrating solar plants, molten salt can work at much higher temperatures (up to 550°C instead of 390°C). The salts store enough energy to keep the plant generating power at night or on cloudy days, which is a common limitation of many renewable energy sources.
It's a comparison that had to be made: Superstorm Sandy versus Hurricane Katrina.
There are many differences between the two storms. Katrina hit the Gulf coast, while Sandy made her way up the East coast. Katrina was a category 3 hurricane when she made landfall, while Sandy had weakened to a post-tropical storm.
But as photos and reports of damage come rolling in, there's one we've all been waiting for. The cost of the storm damage. According to the National Weather Service, Katrina cost the US $108 Billion, the most expensive natural disaster ever. The next most expensive storm, Hurricane Ike, which made landfall as a category 2 hurricane in 2008, did almost $30 Billion in damage.
Accuweather reporter Henry Margusity has his take on Sandy's damage:
Sandy will probably be the most expensive storm in U.S. history. More then Katrina.
Preliminary estimates suggest that the devastation from Hurricane Sandy may have caused $10-$20 billion in total property losses. This would be similar to Tropical Storm Irene in 2011 and Hurricane Rita in 2005, but far short of Hurricane Katrina in 2005 and Hurricane Andrew in 1992 (the two most devastating hurricanes of postwar history). These estimates are still very tentative, and it is possible that the final tally will be bigger.
Another estimate, by Kinetic Analysis Corp. research director Chuck Watson, put the Sandy's overall economic impact at $20 billion to $25 billion. Flood damage to New York's subway tunnels and potential electrical system damage is a major wild card, Watson said.
One difference between the two storms that we can be thankful for: The death toll. While our counts of the dead are still rising, currently at 59 dead (29 in New York City), according to The New York Times. Hurricane Katrina, on the other hand, killed over 1,800 people, according to Wikipedia.