Extreme Cold Weather in Europe a Clear Consequences of Climate Change
Hundreds have lost their lives in Eastern Europe as freezing weather sweeps across the continent westwards, while major airports warned that services would be delayed or cancelled.
A state of emergency was declared in Bosnia after the cold snap claimed its seventh victim, and avalanches and strong winds cut off hundreds of villages in eastern parts. A friend called me from Warsaw knowing me as a true climate change advocate, saying we have failed, because of we believe in global warming and now the globe is freezing!
I immediately answered him with a proof of what he has known and watched recently in a sciences documentary, which shows polar bears drowning, because after long swims they cannot find a solid piece of ice to get onto and rest without that ice breaking from under them.
Is Global Warming Really Happening?
So many people have been saying to me over the past few weeks that how can people be talking about climate change and global warming when this year and last year we've had such snow as hasn't been seen in these parts for years.
For years, climate contrarians have pointed to snowfall and cold weather to question the scientific reality of human-induced climate change.
It always fascinates me that people never want to believe the scientists when it comes to global warming, but they trust the scientists (doctors) who will do brain surgery or heart transplants.
When the global warming “side” said, it will cause floods in some places, we have witnessed it does actually in Australia, Newzeland, Pakistan and many other countries, many people died, billions of dollars lost. They said it will cause droughts in other part of the globe and it does. The global warming side said trees in the Amazon will start to die causing wild fire and it does. The polar ice caps will melt, changing the circulation of the jet stream, the Gulf Stream, and other global climate regulators and it is now happening.
Of course, the fact that we're having some really cold weather with plenty of snow doesn't contradict global warming. Global warming is a climate change effect that can cause many types of weather anomaly, and an overall increase in global temperature doesn’t have to cause locally warmer weather only, it’s a bit more complex than that.
Role of global warming!
NASA and NOAA plus research centers around the world track the global average temperature, and all conclude that Earth is warming. In fact, the past decade has been found to be the hottest since scientists started recording reliable data in the 1880s. These rising temperatures are caused primarily by an increase of heat-trapping emissions in the atmosphere created when we burn coal, oil, and gas to generate electricity, drive our cars, and fuel our businesses. Hotter air around the globe causes more water evaporation, which fuels heavier precipitation in the form of more intense rain and snow storms.
At the same time, because less of a region’s precipitation is falling in light storms and more of it in heavy storms, the risks of drought and wildfire are also greater. Ironically, higher air temperatures tend to produce intense drought periods punctuated by heavy floods, often in the same region. To have one bad winter may be considered a misfortune, to have two on the run could be construed as a pattern. In fact, what we are experiencing now is well within the bounds of natural variability, even in a globally warmer world. There are undoubtedly many other complications that have combined to give us a bitterly cold December. The first is a “blocking high” pressure in the North Atlantic that has sent our mild westerlies, and surprisingly balmy weather, to Greenland. Another is the possibility that we are entering a cooler phase of the climatic oscillation of the North Atlantic, when the usual pattern of low pressure over Greenland and high pressure over the Azores breaks down. A final complication is what’s happening in the tropical Pacific Ocean, where the “La Nina” sea current is entering a 20-year high of activity. However, the work by Vladimir Petoukhov and Professor Stefan Rahmstorf makes a remarkable prediction based on the loss of Arctic sea ice. We could be seeing colder winters than normal precisely because the Arctic is getting warmer.
The Arctic connection
Arctic sea ice has been in retreat over recent decades, with record lows recorded in September 2007. The normal recovery of the sea ice during winter has also been affected, especially in the Barents and Kara seas which have seen significant losses of ice cover over the past decade.
Stefan Rahmstorf, professor of physics of the oceans at the Potsdam Institute, said the floating sea ice in winter insulates the relatively warm seawater from the bitterly cold temperatures of the air above it, which can be around -20C or -30C.
"The Arctic sea ice is shrinking and at the moment it is at a record low, which provides a big heat source for the atmosphere," Professor Rahmstorf said. "The open ocean actually heats the atmosphere above because the ocean in the Arctic is about 0C, and that's much warmer than the atmosphere above it. This is a massive change compared with an ice-covered ocean, where the ice operates like a lid. You don't get that heating from below.
"The model simulations show that, when you don't get ice on the Barents and Kara seas, that promotes the formation of a high-pressure system there, and, because the airflow is clockwise around the high, it brings cold, polar air right into Europe, which leads to cold conditions here while it is unusually warm elsewhere, especially in the Arctic," he explained.
The overall warming of the northern hemisphere due to global warming causes losses in Arctic sea ice which causes regional heating of lower levels of air which in turn causes anomalies in atmospheric airstreams causing an overall cooling effect in high latitude countries.
It is high time to believe that the threat of climate change, caused by rising global temperatures, is the most significant environmental challenge facing the world. It has major implications for the world’s social and economic stability, its natural resources and in particular, the way we produce our energy. In order to avoid the most catastrophic impacts of climate change, the global temperature increase must be kept as far below 2°C as possible. This is still possible, but time is running out. To stay within this limit, global greenhouse gas emissions will need to be downsized this would be realize with more investment on clean Renewable energy. We need to significantly reduce the global investment of fossil fuel sources of energy.