The Paradox of Global Warming and Colder Winters

Polar Vortex
Photo credit: NOAA
Reading Time: 2 minutesWhoWhatWhy Climate Change Coverage

If you are shivering in a freezing, snow-blanketed part of the world, global warming might seem like a fine thing to have. But, believe it or not, you can thank global warming for this cold weather.

The summer of 2019 was the hottest on record in the northern hemisphere, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). And there were other extremes this summer — severe drought in India, rains and record floods in the American Midwest, devastating fires in the American West and in Australia. And now the cold.

It seems as if we’re trading weather with the Arctic. We send up our hot air — and the Arctic sends down its cold air. 

But here’s a more scientific explanation: It’s all about the jet stream, a ribbon of fast-moving air that flows west to east over the Northern Hemisphere. NOAA defines it this way: “Jet streams are the major means of transport for weather systems. A jet stream is an area of strong winds ranging from 120–250 mph that can be thousands of miles long, a couple of hundred miles across and a few miles deep… This means most jet streams are about 6–9 miles off the ground.”

But how does it work? And why does it make the summers warmer and the winters colder? Please see the story below for answers.

Recent headlines on climate events should make things difficult for the average global warming/climate change denier:

Last year was the fourth hottest year on record, globally.

Just two days ago, on June 13, Greenland lost two billion tons of ice.

The Arctic is heating up twice as fast as the rest of the world. Because of the warm air above, the Arctic sea ice melts, turning its surface from one that reflects to one  that absorbs solar energy, warming up the water even more. Without the ice cover, water evaporates, contributing to greenhouse gases. A vicious circle.

And the levels of carbon dioxide — the greenhouse gas considered most responsible for global warming — have reached 415 PPM (parts per million), the highest they have ever been in human history.

But will all of this disastrous news make global warming and climate change more difficult to deny? Probably not, because when winter comes, it may be colder than ever, and last longer.

And try to explain this to the denier: the winters are colder — because the planet is heating up.

Here is a video that will show you just how that happens, as well as a lot of other amazing things about our planet.


Related front page panorama photo credit: Adapted by WhoWhatWhy from NASA.

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