Here in the lower 48 of the United States, we have been experiencing unusually cold weather.
Some people, including our president, have been taking this as evidence that there is not global warming going on, but our cold snap is actually a predictable part of global climate change.
Some points on this topic:
- What we experience day to day is weather; global climate has to do with the whole world over a longer time period. Weather of all sorts continues to happen as generally appropriate to one’s locality.
- Global warming does not rescind seasons, which occur due to astronomical conditions. It is still winter here in the Northern Hemisphere.
- The disruption of global warming impacts different regions in different ways rather than uniformly. For example, the arctic regions are warming more quickly than other regions, which disrupts the upper level winds and changes the temperature and water-carrying capacity of weather systems. The cold air that has made its way into most of the lower 48 states has been able to do so because the mechanisms that have historically kept these winter air masses confined to Alaska and Canada have broken down. It is a symptom, not a refutation of global warming – and part of the reason that the term global climate change is used more often than global warming.
- If the climate system were in equilibrium, one would expect roughly the same number of record high and record low recorded temperatures. There have been significantly more high than low temperature records globally in recent years. This article has a good explanation, along with a graphic that shows the proportion in the US for the last 365 days. In some regions in the world, the disparity is even greater, as high as 5 to 1.
I hope everyone will stay warm – or cool – as needed in the location where you are. I also hope that people will look to see what changes or adaptations they need to make to deal with current and expected changes to our climate.
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