Posts tagged ‘jet stream’

Cold Weather Doesn’t Disprove Climate Change

One common misconception about global warming is that it’ll impact each part of the globe in the same way. If it’s a global warming than why are some places getting cold winters? As it turns out, climate change is a bit more complicated than the Earth simply heating up in a uniform way. Climate change is exactly what it sounds like—a general change in the climate, not necessarily a single change that affects the entire planet evenly.

spring snow

Modern climate change, which scientists agree is largely caused by human activities, is a global change in climate. Although often called “global warming”, some scientists are shying away from the term because it makes people think that the entire Earth is heating up uniformly. In reality, while most of the planet is heating up (2016 was the hottest recorded year since 1880—the third year in a row to set this record), climate change doesn’t mean that every single part of the world will get hot immediately. Parts of the globe that are already hot, however, will begin to experience extremely high temperatures and serious droughts. This is not only unsafe for humans but will affect crops and livestock. Global warming is technically a correct term since temperatures are increasing overall but it doesn’t mean that every region will be affected the same way—weather is a bit more complex than that.

As the planet heats up, there are changes in jet stream patterns and precipitation. Heat is energy and moist warm air can fuel intense tropical storms and other weather anomalies. This can cause extreme lows and extreme highs—snow in Egypt and temperatures above 125 degrees Fahrenheit in Iran. Jet stream patterns shift as Arctic ice melts; this can actually lead to colder temperatures in certain areas, as intensely cold Arctic air hits regions that aren’t normally exposed to such low temperatures. This explains some of the recent record low winters in parts of the United States. There are also plenty of weather events that aren’t directly caused by global warming—sometimes a cold winter is just a cold winter!

Cold weather happens, regardless of global warming or other types of climate change. A single event, whether it’s a drought or a blizzard, isn’t enough to prove or disprove climate change. Instead, scientists look at overall trends; the current analysis is that we are experiencing a global warming—and the global temperature is going up fast.

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Photo: Fort Wainwright Public Affairs (cc)

Sources: noaa.gov, yaleclimateconnections.org, usa today

December 4, 2018 at 4:01 am Leave a comment


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