Publication Date January 18, 2022 | Yahoo News

Southern snowstorm likely worsened by climate change, scientists say

Southern US
A snowplow clears a street in Greenville, S.C., on Sunday. (Sean Rayford/Getty Images)
A snowplow clears a street in Greenville, S.C., on Sunday. (Credit: Sean Rayford/Getty Images)

Climate Signals summary: Evidence continues to mount that human-caused climate change can make winter weather worse - such as last weekend's southern snowstorm and February 2021's historic cold temperature outbreak.

Article excerpt: 

The snowstorm that battered the South this weekend, leaving thousands without power, was likely exacerbated by climate change, according to leading climate scientists.

It’s a counterintuitive suggestion, because greenhouse gases are trapping heat and causing higher average temperatures. Sometimes winter weather is milder as a result. But in North America, especially the East Coast and the South, colder winds are blowing in with greater frequency because of how Arctic warming is distorting two phenomena: the jet stream, a band of air flowing west to east, and the polar vortex, a wintertime area of cold air near the North Pole.

“Climate change is causing the jet stream to take more of these southward dips and northward swings,” [Jennifer Francis, senior scientist at Woodwell Climate Research Center in Massachusetts] said. Each southward dip causes a rebound with an adjacent northward swing. So extreme weather events like cold snaps and storms in one location can be accompanied by dry spells and heat waves somewhere else.

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