Even in the winter, the world is getting warmer. However, experts are looking more closely at the connections between these frigid events and climate change after the United States has experienced severe winter storms in recent years.
While there is a clear link between heat waves and global warming, winter storm behavior is influenced by intricate atmospheric dynamics that are more challenging to investigate.
“There are certain aspects of winter storms that are very strongly associated with climate change,” University of Pennsylvania climate scientist Michael Mann told AFP.
Snowfall, for instance, is affected by the warming of lakes and oceans. A phenomenon known as “lake effect snow” occurs in the Great Lakes region near the Canadian border in the United States. Over the Christmas holiday weekend, a deadly snowstorm struck Buffalo, a city on the shores of one of the Great Lakes.
“Not surprisingly, lake-effect snowfall has increased over time due to warmer temperatures over the past 100 years.”
However, other mechanisms, such as how climate change affects the polar vortex and jet stream, are controversial.
The mass of air high in the stratosphere above the North Pole is called a polar vortex. The stratosphere is just above the troposphere, where people live. The cold air to the north and the warm air to the south are separated by a rotating band of air around it. bringing additional cold air south.
According to a study conducted in 2021, disturbances of this kind occur more frequently and are then reflected deep into the atmosphere, where the jet stream resides, for the following two weeks.
This current, which blows from the west to the east, winds along the cold-warm boundary and brings cold air from the north over low latitudes, particularly in the eastern United States.
Atmospheric Environment Research (AER) climatologist Judah Cohen, the paper’s lead author, told AFP: The disturbance and choppiness of the polar vortex improves the probability of serious winter climate. That is recognized by everyone, “he stated. He also mentioned that this “extended” polar vortex was observed just prior to the storm that struck the United States in December of this year.
When a severe cold snap struck Texas in February 2021, resulting in massive blackouts, the same thing happened.
However, the discussion’s core is elsewhere.
What is causing the polar vortex’s increased disturbances?
Cohen asserts that they are connected to Arctic changes accelerated by climate change. Sea ice is rapidly disappearing, but Siberian snow cover is growing at the same time. I’ve been studying this topic for more than 15 years, and now more than ever, I feel more confident in the connection,” he told AFP.
However, Mann stated that this final point is “a lively debate within the scientific community.”
“Climate models do not yet capture all of the underlying physics that may be relevant to how climate change affects the behavior of the jet stream,” according to this statement.
Over the next few years, additional research will be required to unravel the mysteries of these intricate chain reactions.