One argument against global warming is that winters have been colder. The description given for climate change is that the earth gets warmer and temperatures would rise. But given that some parts of the world have experienced record dips in temperature and the US has seen record levels of snow, some are arguing that these events couldn’t possibly be global warming.
Or is it?
Research published in the journal Nature Geoscience claims that the loss of floating Arctic sea ice in the Barents and Kara seas in the north of Scandinavia affects the circulation of air currents globally therefore leading to bitingly cold winds blowing for extended periods during winter over Central Asia and Europe.
The study was carried out by Japanese scientists who said that the cooling effect won’t likely last beyond this century. The continued rise of global temperatures will cancel out the cooling caused by the loss of Arctic sea ice. They admitted that predicting the exact time that would happen is not possible.
An Earth Talk segment in the Scientific American way back in 2009 has a question asking that with all the huge snow and ice storms being experienced in America, does it mean the globe isn’t really warming?
While it would appear that way, it doesn’t change the fact that carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases are continually pumped into the atmosphere each day. In fact, the ten warmest years on record have happened since 1997 – according to the National Aeronautics and Space Administration or NASA. The National Atmospheric and Oceanographic Administration or NOAA also report that the last decades have been the warmest since 1000 AD, and the warming we’ve experienced since the late 19th century is unheard of over the last 1,000 years.
Climate vs Weather
Although there are arguments about human-induced global warming, what most scientists agree on is that there is a need to differentiate weather and climate. Climate is defined by the NOAA as “the average of weather over at least a 30-year period.” This makes periodic aberrations like harsh winter storms not call into mind global warming.
Then again, there’s also wonder as to whether global warming has at least a small role in some countries experiencing harsh winter weather. In 2006, it was the warmer temperatures that caused Lake Erie to not freeze for the first time ever – meaning, in its history. This event led to increased snowfalls because water was evaporating from the lake and was available for precipitation.
Weather, on the other hand, develop and change over hours, days and weeks. And more extreme cases such as snowstorms, hurricanes and droughts are side effects of climate change, a lot of scientists think that any variation in weather on yearly basis can’t be linked to a warming or cooling climate.
But we as humans must also agree that whenever we turn on the thermostat in our homes to fight the cold, we are sending harmful emissions into the environment, and they happen to be the ones that speed up global warming.
Although there are ideas for potential solutions, unless those ideas are made reality, we are in for some really deep trouble.
Let’s Talk About Global Warming
Whenever there is an extreme weather occurrence these days, it can’t be helped that discussions about global warming arise. With climate change deniers and supporters abound, you expect that conversation to end heated rather than meeting in the middle.
The general definition of global warming is the rise in average temperature of the climate system of the earth since the late 19th century. The keyword here is “warming” and those that argue against climate change state that colder weather means the exact opposite.
But saying so is actually denying the fact that its because the world is getting warmer that the glaciers are melting. And that’s generally a bad thing for all of us.
In 2014, Upstate New York was covered in 76 inches of snow. That’s not normal. However, a lake-effect storm is considered a completely natural phenomenon as it comes about due to dry, frigid air that descends on warm bodies of water.
Then again, it could also be said that climate change may be influencing any of the variables mentioned. Meteorologists say that the power of a lake-effect storm is due to the difference in temperature between the lake and the air. For example, Lake Erie is warming thus causing more moisture to evaporate and therefore create more intense snowfall.
Climate scientist Roberto Mera notes that with the increased moisture in the atmosphere, global warming will make winter shorter and milder, but snowstorms will be snowier.
Debates about climate change became even more controversial when the polar vortex hit the eastern United States. Radio show host Rush Limbaugh accused the liberal media of creating a hoax for their “global warming agenda.” While the polar vortex isn’t a new phenomenon either, the previous times it has happened, climate change wasn’t being talked about. But recently, it has been discussed. Even the White House chief science adviser cited research that suggested climate change can indeed cause cold spells like the one experienced by the US last winter.
However, the research cited is far from being considered sound. It does theorize that the rapid warming of the Arctic is causing temperature differentials between the Arctic and the tropics to lower which leads to the possible altering of the jet stream. As such, a likelihood of various kinds of extremes is increased, be it cold, the heat, precipitation and drought.
Less Frequent Cold Extremes
While there is continued debate as to the role of global warming in colder winters, this is for certain: cold extremes are expected to happen a lot less as global warming continues to progress. In fact, they are already being surpassed by record highs.
What also can’t be changed is the fact that the earth is getting warmer. Last year, data by NOAA showed that October was the warmest October ever recorded. Plus, the odds of having another cold record has become really small.
But despite the evidence, deniers are still trying to dispute the facts with the argument that “it’s cold outside.” The International Panel on Climate Change even concluded that the warming of the climate is “unequivocal” and so is the influence of humans on it.
Natalie Regoli is our editor-in-chief. The goal of ConnectUs is to publish compelling content that addresses some of the biggest issues the world faces. If you would like to reach out to contact Natalie, then go here to send her a message.