Letter writer's mistake? Confusing weather with climate

Don Buck's Jan. 9 letter described the impact on the U.S. of the recent Arctic cold. But he went on to "Thank God for global warming," implying that things would have been worse without it.

Is Mr. Buck also grateful for the damage and misery from the 497 record high temperatures or 986 precipitation records that were set last year? Is he also grateful that November 2013 was the hottest November since records began in 1880, or that it was the 37th November in a row (that's back to 1976) with temperatures higher than the 20th century average?

What do scientists say? The usual west-to-east jet stream is in part driven by the temperature difference between the frigid north and the tropical south. As the Arctic region rapidly warms, the jet stream pattern has become "loopier," allowing southerly intrusions of Arctic cold like what we just had here.

But it works both ways. Scandinavia is now experiencing record high temperatures. Bears are emerging from hibernation now and facing flooding. Scientists are studying these complex connections.

What about all that snow? Warmer air can simply hold more moisture. So, with our warmer atmosphere, when it happens, there is more moisture to pour out.


Remember recent biblical flooding events? This is the equivalent in the winter — freezing rain and crazy deep snow. Don't confuse weather with climate.

Edward Cohen


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