Wednesday, February 1, 2023

How is it understood that climate change caused historic snowfall in the United States?

The relatively high temperatures of the past few days across a good part of Spain are a stark contrast to Hurricane Elliott and the intense snowfall in the northeast of the United States.

The thermometric records of the first week of winter in many parts of our country (on this occasion, the Canary Islands being an isolated case) can be linked to climate change, although a specific situation like the present is not necessarily its product. Global warming, everything indicates that it is part of a trend.

Records from the past are added to many other accumulated data, especially over the past decades, and so form a landscape that clearly shows the part of climate change phenomena that is related to increased temperatures.

Relatively high temperatures in areas such as the coast of Barcelona have left unusual views for this time of year.

Mane Espinosa / L.V.

But climate change is not just global warming, as various studies have repeatedly made clear in recent years, from the world report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) to regional work such asImpacts and risks posed by climate change in Spain Or Third report on climate change in Catalonia,

Experts in atmospheric physics interpret this in the sense that the effects caused by climate change are the intensity (in number and violence) of various extreme weather events (floods, droughts, cyclones, storms, snowfall).

In the case of snow, global warming has two partially opposing effects. On the one hand there is a rise in temperature leads to large-scale evaporation of water in lakes, seas and oceans, and it is more The moisture can support heavy snowfall when winter arrives.

On the contrary, due to the increase in temperature, the possibility of snowfall decreases in those areas where the conditions of this type of rain do not reach.

apparently contradictory effect

A recent study by experts from the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (Germany) and Columbia University (USA) analyzed the regional implications of this twin relationship between climate change and snowfall.

The main findings of this study have been published in the journal scientific report (the version onlineAugust 17, 2021) is that “an overall decrease in daily snowfall events is expected over most areas [del hemisferio norte]With exceptions in regions with sufficiently cold climates even under global warming.”

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Thus, the observed trend in recent years of “extreme snow intensity over large areas of the Northern Hemisphere” would continue, “where this type of precipitation is already common in winter and where temperatures remain low despite global warming”. North America and Asia in particular”. This team of experts, led by Anders Liebermann, suggests that the northeastern United States and Canada are likely to have a highly significant impact of climate change “at least until the middle of the century” in the coming decades. is likely to.

known and studied phenomena

Similarly but specifically in the United States, the Third National Climate Change Assessment Report published in 2014 by the United States Global Change Research Program indicated that, “although it may seem contradictory”, an increase in heavy snowfall in the northeastern US, “An expected effect of climate change.”

“That’s because a warmer planet is evaporating more water into the atmosphere. That extra moisture means more precipitation in the form of heavy snowfall or torrential rain,” summarizes the Environmental Defense Fund website, which recognized in 1967 Prestige is a didactic NGO and headquartered in New York.

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Streets of Buffalo, New York, afternoon of December 25. ,

Joyd Viera/AFP


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To understand this phenomenon, The Climate Reality Project, an NGO created by Al Gore, suggests looking at the case of the Great Lakes in the United States.

“The cold air of early winter that blows over the still relatively warm and meltwater of lakes has always been the main driver of heavy snowfall. Some people call this phenomenon the ‘lake effect snow machine,'” Let’s remember the NGO. Vice President of the United States.

Now, climate change is causing temperatures in the lakes to warm even more and delay rapid freezing. This speeds up the “machine” and “as an end result, warmer lake temperatures mean more moisture in the air due to evaporation, and when the weather is cooler, that actually provides fuel for the giant snowstorms that occur.” Keeps going deeper and deeper.” winter than before,” says The Climate Reality Project.


Nation World News Desk
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