The extreme cold and snow across the eastern half of the United States this past winter makes global warming seem laughable. But, paradoxically, the blasts of polar air were fueled in part by planet-warming gases, according to a new paper.
In particular, the gases helped plow heat into the tropical western Pacific Ocean that, in turn, drove the jet stream further north toward the Arctic before it funneled cold, snowy weather over the Midwest and East Coast, explained Tim Palmer, a climate physicist at the University of Oxford in the United Kingdom.
The sea surface temperatures in the western Pacific were “probably the warmest ever recorded this past year,” he told NBC News. “In fact, consistent with that, we had these fantastically strong tropical typhoons in the western Pacific, not least Haiyan which broke all records of wind strength.”