Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Bitter cold, bitter truth

The last couple days, it has been very cold in this part of the country. Not as cold as some places, but still much colder than usual. When I left for work today, it was only 0°F. The high was around 12°F, but it was around -20°F with the wind chill. It will only be 4°F again tonight, so I knew it was only a matter of time before denialists began to claim that this weather disproved global warming.

They (especially Fox) enjoyed citing places in the mid-west where the temperatures were anything from around -15°F to -39°F (with wind chills even lower. The claims were ridiculous. Claims that this weather disproves global warming, or that this bitter cold will kill off climate change for good, or even suggest global cooling.

This happens every year... there's cold weather or snow, so it is claimed as evidence against climate change. They ignore that isolated weather events in one part of the world are not what climate change is about. Climate change is not tracked by weather here or there. It is tracked by global averages over long periods of time. Additionally, when a system that causes unseasonably cold weather in one area, also causes warmer weather in another (like this system), it actually has little to no effect on the average temperature of the Earth at all. Even with a cold weather, the long-term data still shows a warming Earth.

Additionally, more extreme and unstable weather is one of the things expected with climate change. I'd certainly consider this weather event to tick both those boxes. Especially considering it's cause. The cold snap hitting the US now, is due to what is called the polar vortex. Typically, the bitter cold of the North Pole is kept at the pole by the strong polar winds that circle the polar region.

However, when those winds slow down, that cold and dense polar air is able to spread out. And that is exactly what has happened now. The 'fence' of polar winds has slowed down, and the frigid air has taken a vacation to the south. So some of the north has come down to us, and because of that it has gotten much colder here, meanwhile the reduced concentration of cold air means that the pole is warmer that it would be otherwise. For example, areas of Canada were actually colder than the North Pole due to the pole warming some, and Canada (and the USA) getting blasted with that former polar air.

But why did the polar winds slow down, and allow the frigid north to head south. One possibility is the climate change that the deniers are so set against. But the fact is that the warmer polar water that is one of the symptoms of climate change may play a big role. The arctic is warming faster than the rest of the Earth, and it is thought that this can play a roll in slowing and destabilizing the polar winds and jet stream in general. So the very thing Fox News mocks could possibly be partially to blame for the US cold snap.

But facts are not something Fox is interested in. They'd rather attack straw-men to try and further their own political agenda... and line their pockets as well. Disgraceful.

-Brain Hulk

Follow us on your favorite social networking sites!
facebook | google+ | twitter

No comments:

Post a Comment