When most people think of climate change, they think of the warming temperatures, rising sea levels, and forest fires. But extreme winter weather should also be on the list. At least if you live in the United States.
A new report by the Journal of Science has found a link between the Arctic variability and extreme winter weather in the US. For instance, just this year, Texas suffered major blackouts as a direct result of heavy snowfall in February.
Let’s explore the connection between the arctic melting from climate change and extreme winter weather.
How Does the Arctic Melting Affect Weather in the US?
The Arctic is experiencing the worst that climate change has to offer. It is warming at double the rate of the rest of the world and it is severely impacting the local wildlife. And as a result, it has affected the weather patterns of the region.
Or to be more specific, it is having an impact on the polar vortex, a band of strong westerly winds that form in the North Pole each winter.
Essentially, the warmer temperatures within the Arctic are causing the polar vortex to stretch. As a result, this system is able to make its way down to the United States more frequently than ever before.
According to data, the polar vortex has been stretching since 1979. This is likely the root cause of the extreme winter weather Texas saw this year.
And while the report focused on the effects in the US, it is worth noting that a similar phenomenon is also happening in Eastern Asia.
The Research Will Help Forecasters Predict Extreme Winter Weather
Predicting extreme weather of any kind is remarkably helpful, but trying to predict changing weather patterns is not easy.
In the case of the Texas freeze, it came with little warning that left both residents and utility services unprepared. This resulted in mass blackouts throughout the state as both fossil fuel and renewable sources stopped generating power.
In its wake, the death toll of the entire event totaled 210 with some residents freezing to death in their own homes.
However, with the advancements made from this report, it should enable forecasters to give more accurate and advanced warnings. This will enable residents and utilities to properly prepare for future storms.
This Is Why We Call It Climate Change and Not Global Warming
At first, climate change was referred to as global warming, because the temperature was increasing. The name made sense in the early stages. However, it also led to a lot of problems from those that didn’t believe the data.
One of the most infamous counterarguments was when Senator Jim Inhofe brought a snowball to the Senate floor. Stating “It’s cold outside.”
Today, and for many years, scientists have relabeled this as climate change to prevent people from taking the name too literally. The planet is getting warmer, but that doesn’t mean winter weather will go away or get weaker.
The reality is that the extremes will get more extreme, but the average temperature will continue to rise. At least until we get our emissions under control.
Robert has been following and writing about environmental stories for years at GreenGeeks. He believes that highlighting environmentally friendly practices can help promote change in every household.