From Discovery: “Does Historic Snow Mean Global Cooling? Not So Much”

Discovery News
Discovery News

Feb 9, 2015
Patrick J. Kiger

Boston, three days ago

Okay, so this is getting ridiculous. As CNN notes, for the third week in a row, we’ve started off with a snowstorm burying the U.S. Northeast. This time, the National Weather Service is calling for another frozen onslaught, and winter storm warnings in New England, the New York City region and parts of Pennsylvania. By Monday afternoon, the beleaguered Boston area already had been hit with 19 inches of show.

If that’s not bad enough, forecasts call for still more snow near the weekend.

For those forced to put on rubber boots and ski masks and dig out their cars and shovel sidewalks three times now in the past month, the frustration may be reaching new levels. It may be time for New Yorker magazine humorist Andy Borowitz to revive his joke from last January about how the snowstorm is causing hundreds of injuries, “as people making snide remarks about climate change are punched in the face.”

Seriously, though, what’s up with all the snow this year? As talk radio pundits have sometimes argued in the past, is it proof that the world actually cooling down instead of warming?

To put it simply, no. Just about every scientific organization that’s examined the issue has concluded that 2014 was the hottest year on record, and an increase in extreme weather events — from hurricanes to snowpocalypses — actually fits climate scientists’ long-term predictions.

As the Guardian reports, one big factor in the severity of winter snowstorms has been unusually warm temperatures — about 2 degrees Fahrenheit above normal — off the Atlantic coast, Warmer temperatures mean that the air can hold more water vapor, and as a result, there has been about 10 percent more moisture in the atmosphere than usual this winter.

“You can easily get as much as 20 percent more snow out of a storm than you would otherwise, as long as it is cold enough so that all of that moisture gets converted into snow. And that is usually the case in the wintertime,” Kenneth Trenberth, a climate scientist for the National Center for Atmospheric Research, explained to the Guardian.

See the full article here.

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