Freezing in a Warming World



Brace yourself for a flurry from the climate change deniers this winter. According to a recently released study, parts of North America are in for bitter cold. And you know the scoffers will use the freezing weather to mock those of us alarmed by the warming of the world.

They don’t understand how climate change works. I guess they don’t want to understand.

I’ll try to explain it anyway.

The coming deep freeze is due to the weakening of the polar vortex, a mass of icy air swirling around the North Pole. As the globe warms, the polar cap melts, and the polar vortex gets weaker.

This weakening has caused a shifting of the vortex, resulting in warmer winters for Europe but colder winters for North America. Expect the worst of the freeze in February and March and expect the cold weather to come farther south than usual.

When the cold winds blow and some climate-change skeptic starts taunting you, tell him climate change doesn’t warm the whole world in a uniform way. The weather is more complex than that.

Martin Chipperfield, a professor at the University of Leeds and co-author of the study, explains it this way:

Climate change can lead to extremes; it’s not like a regular change, everyone to the same extent at all times and places. Despite the overall warming, you can get in places like the Northeast US extreme cold events.

The Arctic ice is melting even when we are shivering. One reason is Arctic amplification, which occurs as melting ice and snow are replaced by dark blue water and land. If your skeptical  friend finds that hard to grasp, ask him if he knows dark colors absorb heat faster than light colors. Ice and snow are white, see? Water and land are dark.

So the Arctic warms a lot more quickly than some other parts of the world.

Surely your skeptical friend should be able to understand that.

More on the study