Cold wave in the United States and Canada and the potential impact of the climate crisis

If you only have a few seconds, read these lines:

  • Winter cold waves, such as those recorded in the United States and Canada in the last week of 2022, do not contradict climate change.
  • Extreme cold events depend on the frequency and intensity of northerly winds that carry arctic air to lower latitudes, and on the temperature of that air itself.
  • There is no consensus on whether warming in the Arctic might cause extreme events to be more frequent or severe than they have been in decades.

United State
s Canada His face at the end of 2022 Cool surprise described by the Mayor of Buffalo (NY), Byron Brown (Democrat), as “The storm that lives once in a generationDozens of people were killed. This event is very cold used in networks social to doubt the Global Warming. But this is not the case. We explain it to you.

Winter cold waves do not conflict with climate change

the winter They have become warmer In mid-latitude places like the United States. This is how the American meteorologist explains it Bob Hensonwhich states that, in general, “There is less snow All over the country.” But, he points out, that doesn’t mean we can’t experience occasional extreme events (like heavy snowfalls or cold snaps).

Regardless of whether or not climate change is involved, it’s still winter. No one ever said global warming would kill winter.. We are still in the middle latitudes of the northern hemisphere. We’re far enough north to get really cold and snowy winter weather. So it may not be climate change so much as a continuation of climate variability that we’ve always been, perhaps intensified in some cases by this strange jet stream associated with Arctic warmingHenson explained.

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Increase in extreme weather events

Attribution study About the December 2016 cold snap that affected Canada and the United States, he notes that the severity of these extreme cold events depends on Frequency and intensity of north winds that carry arctic air to low latitudes and to the extreme the temperature of that air.

Scientific work It did not show an increase in the frequency and intensity of these cold waves In North America while the temperature rises in the Arctic, a region of the planet It is warming faster than the rest of the world.

However, “in an ice-free Arctic ocean, there is more water vapor available and more exchange between the ocean and the atmosphere, which translates to More snow falls in areas near the Arctic Oceanas in Siberia (Russia) and northern Canada and More cooling in fall and early winter“, explains meteorologist Rubén del Campo to Maldita.eshalf co-founder of Fact check.

Matthew BarlowProfessor of Climate Science at the University of Massachusetts Lowell, W Judah Cohena climate scientist at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), explained in the conversation The warming of the Arctic could lead to extreme cold waves.

Global warming is behind the increased frequency and intensity of extreme weather events, including heavy rainfall and More snowfallto me United States National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine.

Arctic air seeped in behind this cold snap

this is cause a cold snap for coming down stratospheric polar vortexSome winds blow more than 15 kilometers from the surface of the Arctic between autumn and spring, and whose breaking means an outlet for cold air confined in the Arctic to the south.

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But how might the polar vortex affect temperatures in the United States? Henson explains that when the North Pole is dark 24 hours a day, It can accumulate a large amount of cold air very easy. Although this cold air sometimes stays near the poles, and it is possible that the climate is relatively mild in the United States, from time to time the jet stream descends to the south and pulls some of this cold air toward this country, he says. .

The US environmental center NOAA explained the polar vortex

Although the general warming trend may lead to an increase in extreme winter weather events in some regions, There is no “convincing evidence of a long-term trend” Of a weakening in the polar vortex that involves more frequent and/or very cold waves in regions near the North Pole and data is limited, he explained National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) In March 2021.

While some climate models predict that global warming will lead to a weakening of the polar vortex, others predict that warming and loss of sea ice will lead to a stronger polar vortex. Where and when does sea ice loss occur? They can increase or decrease this polar vortex and explain the discrepancies between the predictions, says NOAA.

There is no consensus on whether a warmer Arctic will lead to more cold snaps in the South.

for example, study linking the warming of the Arctic to the cold snap that struck Texas in the southern United States in February 2021, while Latest from 2020 He noted the lack of evidence linking warming in the Arctic with effects farther south.

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The position on whether extreme cold events will increase due to a warming Arctic”remains vagueAs explained by L New York times Steve Vavrosa climatologist at the University of Wisconsin (USA), co-authored in 2012 Scientific work which indicate that a warmer Arctic has been associated with mid-latitude extremes in the past 30 years. Del Campo concludes, “There is no consensus as to whether these changes in the Arctic are capable of producing extreme events of greater frequency or intensity than they have in decades.”

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Sacha Woodward

"Wannabe writer. Lifelong problem solver. Gamer. Incurable web guru. Professional music lover."

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