Everyone has noticed that this winter has been worse than the past few years. It’s a constant topic in most households but next year will be better right? Not likely, according to both NASA and NOAA. Our current winter conditions are going to continue for the next following winters and will get far worse if don’t do something to slow down the warming of the polar icecaps.
It is difficult to explain simply because there are hundreds of factors that go into our weather patterns. The two big ones, the polar vortex and the jet stream, are nowhere near where they have been in past years. The polar vortex is actually the air around the polar caps and pushes cold air down. The polar jet stream, the one we are concerned with in North America, pushes air east to west.
As the ice caps melt and the air warms up much faster there than anywhere else. This is bad because it means that the temperature differences that drive the polar jet stream are getting closer together. As the temperatures get closer together, it causes the east to west air to become weaker and the north south currents to strengthen.
So what does all this mean for us? It means that the north south currents are stronger and the west coast will experience longer hot seasons with record droughts and the east coast longer cold seasons with record lows in temperature and snowfall. This isn’t something that can be reversed. It is also something that can’t be proved.
There are hundreds of factors that go into determining what the weather will be and we can’t predict them all. What we can do is look at the evidence and predict what is most likely to happen. Even though, if this pattern holds, we can’t reverse it, we can stop it from getting worse. We have lost 60% of polar sea ice in the past 30 years. This is what we need to focus on stopping if we hope to stabilize the climate before it gets worse.
-Information and photo courtesy of NOAA ( National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration)