Ebene News – United States – 3 things people are wrong about the polar vortex and climate change

I was interviewed by several media outlets this week about the extreme cold that plunged the United States The events, especially in Texas, were tragic and deserved coverage As a weather expert and climate often requested by the media, I could not help but notice three things that continue to crop up in these dialogues I suspect they may also reveal themselves in a wider public discourse

The first is about the polar vortex itself. It is very common to get comments such as “The polar vortex caused this cold outbreak?” or “The Polar Vortex arrived in the United States this week” The Polar Vortex is not a storm that comes looking for us like a boogeyman or a tornado An “oldie but goodie” blog post by Brian McNoldy, a meteorologist at the ‘University of Miami, is a solid reference on this point McNoldy wrote: “The polar vortex (also sometimes referred to as the circumpolar vortex) is a large, persistent upper atmosphere cyclonic circulation that forms and exists above the winter pole.“A lot of people might be surprised to learn that other planets have them too McNoldy continues:“ This is not a winter storm, nor a storm of any kind. It’s just a natural part of the earth’s circulation. 10 to 30 miles in the atmosphere “

If the polar vortex is disturbed or weakened, arctic air can spill out into the lower 48 states in any of the U-shaped (hollow) entities below NOAA scientist Michelle The Happy, explained brilliantly in The New York Times using the analogy of the polar vortex as a chain fence holding in a group of animals If there is a breach in the fence a few animals might escape, but if the whole fence collapses they all pile up

Which brings me to the second thing I heard this week Did climate change cause this epidemic? I co-authored a 2016 National Academy of Science report on attributing extreme weather conditions to climate change In this report we concluded that contemporary extreme events likely have climate change ‘DNA’ in them. Previous Forbes article addressed the findings and nuances of this report.However, one of the panel’s most important recommendations was that the media and policymakers should stop questioning whether this event was caused by climate change To me it’s like asking if the 358th home run hit by a Major League Baseball player using steroids was caused by the performance enhancing drug. This player could probably hit a home run naturally without steroids.However, it is likely that a detectable influence of steroids could be seen in his overall home run statistics (number and length) In the report we recommended questions such as:

The report also found that the strongest claims on attributing climate change can be made on extreme temperature events, intense rainfall and drought Regarding the polar vortex, some studies suggest that climate change could lead to more disturbance or “weakened fences” in the future. According to an outstanding introduction on this topic on the University of California-Davis website, “Although the polar vortex is well documented, its behavior has become more extreme due to climate change, according to (Paul) Ullrich.” the arctic region is warming disproportionately compared to the tropics, there is also evidence that the Jet Stream becomes “wavier” so that its lobes penetrate further south. For more on this topic, see the explanation recently written by Seth Borenstein of The Associated Press

It’s important to take a step back and remember that it’s February and winter in the northern hemisphere Cold snap is happening However, experts fear these violations will occur more frequently Borenstein cites research published in a leading meteorological journal which reveals that such events occur every year rather than every two years or so

The last thing I notice is something very counter-intuitive for many people You can have extreme cold in one part of the world and hot anomalies (difference from normal) elsewhere The map below shows temperature anomalies as of February 21, 2021 Colder air in mid-US is evident However, warm anomalies are noticeable in extreme polar regions as well as parts of Asia As a climatologist and communicator, it’s a constant struggle to get people out of their narrow perspective that what’s happening in their little corner of the world is indeed local and not global

Dr J Marshall Shepherd, a leading international expert in the field of weather and climate, was President of the American Meteorological Society (AMS) in 2013 and Director of the

Dr J Marshall Shepherd, a leading international expert in the field of weather and climate, was the 2013 President of the American Meteorological Society (AMS) and Director of the Atmospheric Sciences Program at the University of Georgia (UGA) Dr Shepherd is Professor Emeritus of the Georgia Athletic Association and hosts The Weather Channel’s Weather Geeks podcast, which you can find in any podcast Prior to UGA, Dr Shepherd spent 12 years as a research meteorologist at NASA-Goddard Space Flight Center and was Associate Project Scientist for the Global Precipitation Measurement (GPM) mission In 2004 he was honored at the White House with a prestigious PECASE award He also received major honors from the American Meteorological Society, the American Association of Geographers and the Captain Planet Foundation Shepherd is frequently called upon as a weather and climate expert by major media, the White House, and Congress He has over 80 peer-reviewed scientific publications and numerous editorials Dr Shepherd received his BS, MS and Florida State University PhD in Physical Meteorology

Climate change, polar vortex, Texas, Arctic

Ebene News – United States – 3 things people are wrong about the polar vortex and climate change

Source: https://www.forbes.com/sites/marshallshepherd/2021/02/19/3-things-people-get-wrong-about-the-polar-vortex-and-climate-change/