This holiday season has been blasted with extremely cold temperatures and loads of snow. How does this make sense in the context of climate change? Aren’t global temperatures supposed to be rising?
Oddly enough, the cold winter temperatures we’ve been experiencing can be partially explained by climate change. The jet stream is a wind pattern that usually blows from west to east across North America. The jet stream has changed over the past few years. Currents are now pulling dry air northwards over western North America (hence the California forest fires). As it moves east, the current then redirects southward, pulling cold arctic air towards the Great Lakes region.
The weather pattern is called the “North American Dipole”. Scientists found that it is caused by warming in the Pacific Ocean and Arctic. The warming in those region is attributable to greenhouse gas emissions.
The same scientists also explain that the North American Dipole weather effect will be less severe in the future. Winter temperatures are expected warm dramatically across the entire continent and cancel out some of the cold Dipole effect in eastern North America.
As shown in the picture, the cold air over Eastern North America is clearly an outlier compared to the rest of the world. Meanwhile, the US President appears to misunderstand the difference between weather and climate change based on a recent tweet:
“In the East, it could be the COLDEST New Year’s Eve on record. Perhaps we could use a little bit of that good old Global Warming that our Country, but not other countries, was going to pay TRILLIONS OF DOLLARS to protect against. Bundle up!”
Photo Courtesy of Climate Reanalyzer