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How can record snowfalls be caused by global warming?

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Being concerned about global warming doesn’t make apparent sense when you’re knee-deep in snow…

By Eartheasy Posted Feb 18, 2011

SnowstormIn New England, roofs have been collapsing due to extraordinary snowfall amounts, as freezing weather delayed melting, and snow accumulations increased to the breaking point in some structures. Across the US this winter, we’ve seen a succession of heavy snowfalls blanketing large regions, causing airport and highway closures. In December 2009, North America’s heaviest blizzard in a decade caused power outages and travel chaos along the eastern seaboard. The last two winters have also seen record snowfall amounts in Europe.

How can this onslaught of snowy weather be reconciled with the claims of global warming which climate scientists have been warning us about for decades? When we experience monster snowstorms and record snowfall amounts, the existence of global warming seems counter-intuitive. With all this snow, it seems like winters are getting colder.

The term “global warming” is an unfortunate choice of words to describe the current and predicted changes to global weather patterns. Heavy snowfall events reinforce the perception among some that global warming is not occurring, a perception which prevents taking actions to help mitigate the effects of climate change. Being concerned about global warming doesn’t make apparent sense when you’re knee-deep in snow.

“Climate change” is a more accurate term to describe the condition of our changing weather patterns.

Snowfall amounts are largely driven by the amount of moisture in humid air when Arctic cold fronts collide with warm fronts advancing from southern regions. This effect can be influenced by diverse factors such as El Nino weather patterns. But record warm weather, according to physicist Michio Kaku, can heat the oceans and generate more moisture, which in turn can drive larger storms, producing more snowfall. In this video, Dr. Kaku explains how snowy weather can be the result of an overall warming trend.

Among scientists, there is general consensus that the climate is indeed warming, with 2010 tied with 2005 as the hottest year on record since measurements began in 1880. The controversy is to what degree human activity is driving this warming effect.

With the warming trend increasing, we can expect record snowfalls to be more common as moisture levels rise to intensify winter storms.

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  • klem

    If global warming causes increased moisture in the air as suggested, that means more snow, this also means more snow on glaciers causing them to grow again after decades of retreat. More glaciers reflect more IR light back out into space, cooling the planet. This could be the beginning of global cooling, we have to stop it now or we're all going to die! We need more global warming. Quick, remove the wind turbines before we get passed the tipping point. AAAaaaahhhhhhhh!

    • Greg Seaman

      If only it worked that way! Unfortunately the warming effect is global while snowfall events are regional, and the cooling benefit of reflected IR light is small in comparison.

      But you are on the right track in your reasoning. Energy Secretary Stephen Chu has suggested that all rooftops in new construction should be painted white.

  • Mitchell

    This effect is also behind the flooding events of recent (and future) years.

  • http://www.purefx.co.uk Currency Broker Pete

    Hi,

    Since this is the case I'm pretty sure climate change could be positive for some regions. Certain zones could become more temperate for instance or more congenial for growing crops. This probably isn't the case worldwide (since human infrastructures have been built for existing climates) but it doesn't mean climate change must be all bad.

    Thanks!

    Pete

    • Mitchell

      While there may be pockets of improved agricutural conditions, the overall effects of global warming far outweigh the benefits. It takes very little digging to come to this conclusion.

  • http://www.clemmermoving.com Boston Metro Movers

    Are there still people arguing that global warming is not an existing phenomenon?

    • Greg Seaman

      There is growing consensus that global warming is occurring, as scientific evidence is now available to convince even hardened skeptics. However, there is much disagreement as to whether this warming is caused by man-made activities. As you may know, the current accepted policy among the Republican party is that climate change is not caused by human activities and therefore greenhouse gas mitigation efforts are not necessary.

  • Milton Nivose

    The green era is no longer an optional way of living. It will take over decade to to make the necessary changes to see the difference in our weather, specifically moisture accumulation in the atmosphere.

  • pri

    thanks for sharing informative blog like this : )

  • Emmitt Hollin

    Thanks for this great post. It is unfortunate that the term global warming has stuck because that give the uneducated people the chance to throw the terms back at us when there is turbulent cold weather. I'm going to send link to this article to everyone I know!

  • PenK

    Very interesting post. I’m going to send this to all the non-global-warming-believers I have in my contacts.
    Best of luck to you, and once again, very informative article here.

  • http://www.hornygoatweedhealth.com icariin

    I feel that yes global damage can be caused by us humans, yes, however I don't think its as bad as the media and the government led us to believe, but the whole plan worked out well for everyone, as the guilt pushed onto the human race in order to make us recycle and use less natural resources is a very good thing, and lets face it if a government said "we think that we might possibly be damaging the environment" then we all would be like yeah whatever we will carry on as we are, but when someone says "the earth will change because of us and soon we may all die" then we start to take things seriously and act quicker, so global warming or not, the plan was successful :D

  • college Papers

    Thanks for this great post. It is unfortunate that the term global warming has stuck because that give the uneducated people the chance to throw the terms back at us when there is turbulent cold weather. I'm going to send link to this article to everyone I know!

  • http://stardirectory.org/ bili

    While there may be pockets of improved agricutural conditions, the overall effects of global warming far outweigh the benefits. It takes very little digging to come to this conclusion.

  • Sherry Hearn

    It Is Climate Change, they are just stuck on the global warming word,,,,,,

  • Letslipthedogs

    Thank you for the article. The explanation still doesn’t make sense as a lot of snow means cooler temperatures. Sitting here in the cold it is hard to grasp global warming is causing this. Not a very credible explanation and seems a stretch.

    • http://eartheasy.com/ Greg Seaman

      “Global warming” was a poor choice of words from whoever first came up with it. The better term is “climate change”, which is what is happenning.

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