The Big Chill

BY ON January 25, 2013

"I hope the new normal is not the big chill" cartoon


The freezing cold weather that’s gripped the Northeast has some scratching their heads about climate change. But Dr. Heidi Cullen, chief climatologist for Climate Central tells us, “People look to weather for cues about what’s going on. Climate change stacks the deck for certain types of extreme weather events…When we break records now—and we are breaking thousands of them—we break them by a lot.”

MCAF partner, Union of Concerned Scientists elaborates:

“For years, climate contrarians have pointed to snowfall and cold weather to question the scientific reality of human-induced climate change. Their annual barrage of misinformation obscures the interesting work scientists are doing to figure out just how climate change is affecting weather patterns year-round. Understanding what scientists know about these effects can help us adapt. And, if we reduce the emissions that are driving climate change, we can avert its worst consequences in the future.

The United States is already experiencing more intense rain and snow storms…Overall, it’s warming, but we still have cold winter weather…

Winters have generally been warming faster than other seasons in the United States. However, recent research indicates that climate change is disrupting the Arctic and ice around the North Pole in a particularly interesting way. In the Arctic, frigid air is typically trapped in a tight loop known as the polar vortex. This super-chilled air is not only cold, it also tends to have low barometric pressure compared to the air outside the vortex. The surrounding high-pressure zones push in on the vortex from all sides so the cold air is essentially “fenced in” above the Arctic, where it belongs.”


Luckily, UCS also says, “The choices we make today can help determine what our climate will be like in the future. Putting a limit on heat-trapping emissions, encouraging the use of healthier, cleaner energy technologies, and increasing our energy efficiency are all ways to help us to avert the worst potential consequences of global warming, no matter what the season.” 


TOPICS: Climate Change, Heat and Extreme Weather