By Robert A. Vella
The mainstream media is sensationally covering the current cold and snowy weather across the northern U.S. like it was some sort of terrorist attack. Fox News – as is their modus operandi – has suggested that since it is cold outside, global warming must not be happening.
Before getting into specifics, maybe someone should inform the media that it is the middle of winter in the northern hemisphere, and that climate scientists are not predicting the final demise of wintery conditions on the Earth – at least not anytime soon.
When talking about local and regional atmospheric conditions in the short-term, it is called weather. When discussing global average temperature and precipitation changes over the long-term, it is called climate. The two are related, but distinctly separate fields of study.
While much of the U.S. has recently experienced below normal temperatures, Australia is enduring a record-breaking heatwave:
On Thursday, parts of inland Australia reached temperatures around 50 degrees Celsius, or 122 degrees Fahrenheit, before a shifting air mass is forecast to bring weekend temperatures back to averages in the mid-30s. There were reports of temperatures as high as 54 degrees Celsius, 129 degrees Fahrenheit, in the outback on Thursday.
With this unusual heat, Australia begins 2014 in the same way it ended 2013 — hot, dry, and politically uninspired to do anything about it. Australia spent much of 2013 on track to set a new record for hottest year ever. According to The Guardian, the Bureau of Meteorology “is expected to announce on Friday that 2013 had been Australia’s warmest year, with average temperatures trending about 1C above the long-term average.”
Last month was the warmest November since modern temperature record keeping began in 1880, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration announced today in its latest State of the Climate report, which summarizes climate-related news from around the world.
With a combined land and ocean surface temperature of 56.6 degrees Fahrenheit, November 2013 also was the 345th consecutive month – and the 37th November in a row – with a global temperature higher than the 20th century average, the NOAA report added.
Higher-than-average monthly temperatures were reported on nearly every continent around the world, including much of Europe and Asia, coastal Africa, Central America and central South America, as well as in the North Atlantic Ocean, southwest Pacific Ocean and the Indian Ocean.
Russia experienced its warmest November since national weather records began in 1891, as some parts of the country like Siberia and the Arctic islands in the Kara Sea recorded temperatures more than 14 Fahrenheit degrees higher than the monthly average.
Furthermore, climate change does not mean temperatures will rise uniformly throughout the world year after year in a steady manner. Conversely, climate change means there will be wild swings in temperature and precipitation at the regional level, and the occurrence and/or intensity of extreme weather events will likely increase. Earth’s climate system is very complex. For example, evidence is mounting that the loss of Arctic sea ice is causing a shift in normal weather patterns:
The loss of hundreds of thousands of square kilometers of sea ice radically reduces the Arctic Ocean’s ability to keep the Arctic cold. To the contrary, we see larger areas of open water that, in turn, radiate ocean heat into the atmosphere throughout winter. As a result the temperature difference between the Arctic and temperate regions is less and this, in turn, slows down the Jet Stream.
When the Jet Stream slows, it tends to meander. And when it meanders it creates very deep troughs and very large ridges. In the ridges, we get unseasonably hot temperatures along with increased risk of drought. And in the troughs, Arctic air swoops down to collide with warmer, moist air in a series of powerful storms. During the summer time, the hot, dry zones can bring deadly heat waves, record droughts, and major wildfires while the cooler stormier zones can bring epic rainfall events or even link up with tropical cyclones to result in highly severe hybrid storms. During the winter time, the hot zones can almost completely obliterate the winter season, while the stormy cooler zones can result in snow storm after snow storm.
For the latest technical data on global temperature rise, see: The global temperature jigsaw