World news – 2.7 million households in Texas run out of electricity due to severe winter weather: is global warming to blame?

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2.7 million households in Texas are without electricity due to the harsh winter weather: Is global warming to blame?

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At the beginning of February, powerful snowstorms blew up the northeast. Now Texas and much of the South are struggling to recover from the unusually severe winter weather that left 24 people and 2.7 million Texas households without power as of late Wednesday, February 17. The New York Times reports that there is disturbance in the polar vortex.

Climate change deniers sometimes cite heavy snowfall as evidence that global warming is a myth. Some climate researchers even say that winter weather is getting harsher, even though winters are getting warmer overall.

« The motto for snowstorms in the age of climate change could be: » Go big or go home! «  » Climate researcher Judah Cohen told the Times. Cohen is director of seasonal forecasting at Atmospheric and Environmental Research, a company that analyzes climate and weather risks.

The polar vortex consists of strong winds that orbit the Arctic in a layer of the atmosphere known as the stratosphere. In early January, a change in the beam below the polar vortex resulted in an event known as « sudden warming of the stratosphere ». “In this case, the temperatures in the normally cold polar stratosphere rise explosively by up to 50 ° C within a few days – hence the name of these events,” explains The Conversation. Abrupt warming like this causes the arctic air to move downwards, which explains the recent rash of severe snowstorms.

(1/2) It’s # SSW day! While temperatures in the middle stratosphere have already risen by ~ 30 K, the date of the event is defined by the fact that the winds, which normally flow at 60 N and 10 hPa from the west, reverse direction and flow from the east instead. pic.twitter.com/rzvsfRMvR0

Scientists agree that the evidence that human emissions are causing climate change cannot be denied. However, they hesitate to say with certainty that climate change is behind the recent disruptions in the stratosphere. According to Dr. Cohen is « having severe winter weather much more common when the Arctic is warmest. » However, Amy H. Butler, a scientist at NOAA Chemical Sciences Laboratory, says that weather patterns that affect the eddy « occur naturally without climate change. » Jennifer Francis of the Woodwell Climate Research Center suggests that climate change must play a role, even if scientists don’t fully understand it yet. Researchers are actively studying the « warm Arctic / cold continents » pattern, says the New York Times climate reporter John Schwartz.

According to Dr. Butler, sudden warming events in the stratosphere can lead to « cold extremes in large parts of Northern Europe and Asia as well as in the eastern United States and to unusually warmer temperatures in the Canadian Arctic and subtropical Asia ». In their article for The Conversation, Butler and scientist Zachary Lawrence of the University of Colorado at Boulder note that it can take weeks or months for the polar vortex to recover from such an event.

Though the weather is difficult to predict more extreme temperatures and heavy snowstorms may be on the way.

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