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Global warming means more snowstorms: scientists

By Agence France-Presse
Tuesday, March 1, 2011 19:04 EDT
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WASHINGTON – Climate change is not only making the planet warmer, it is also making snowstorms stronger and more frequent, US scientists said on Tuesday.

“Heavy snowstorms are not inconsistent with a warming planet,” said scientist Jeff Masters, as part of a conference call with reporters and colleagues convened by the Union of Concern Scientists.

“In fact, as the Earth gets warmer and more moisture gets absorbed into the atmosphere, we are steadily loading the dice in favor of more extreme storms in all seasons, capable of causing greater impacts on society.”

Masters said that the northeastern United States has been coated in heavy snowfall from major Category Three storms or larger three times in each of the past two winters, storms that are unparalleled since the winter of 1960-61.

“If the climate continues to warm, we should expect an increase in heavy snow events for a few decades, until the climate grows so warm that we pass the point where it’s too warm for it to snow heavily.”

Mark Serreze, director of the National Snow and Ice Data Center in Boulder, Colorado, said less sea ice in the Artic translates to more moisture in the atmosphere, and could also cause an atmospheric circulation pattern in polar regions known as Arctic Oscillation.

“It’s still cutting-edge research and there’s no smoking gun, but there’s evidence that with less sea ice, you put a lot of heat from the ocean into the atmosphere, and the circulation of the atmosphere responds to that,” Serreze said.

“We’ve seen a tendency for autumns with low sea ice cover to be followed by a negative Arctic Oscillation.”

Even though spring in North America is just around the corner, Masters said more snow is on the way next week in the upper Midwest, and the melting snow pack could spark record floods in Minnesota, South Dakota and North Dakota this spring.

Agence France-Presse
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  • Anonymous

    This is particularly hysterical because, aside from the obvious stupidity – warming causes cold – years ago they were saying that Great Britain would never see snow again. Now the warming causes *more* snow. Warming causing excess moisture in the air would make sense, except the manner in which it falls back to earth – ice crystals. Doesn’t anyone get tired of these quacks blaming *everything* on global warming? Last year Gordon Brown actually blamed earthquakes on global warming. These people are all lunatic eugenicists who need an excuse to cull the vast majority of the human population and “global warming” is their excuse. “The enemy of man is man.” There are a whole host of serious environmental problems – most of them caused by the same states and their corporate clients who advocate draconian climate change legislation and global governance – that are ignored. Water fluoridation, geo-engineering, genetically modified foods, petroleum. If oil companies didn’t have bought and paid for representatives in the legislatures of our so-called democracies, free, infinite energy would be available to us all. A guy named Tesla had it figured out a hundred years ago. They destroyed him because there’s no profit in free energy. Now the blame for the pollution they facilitate through their crony capitalism is passed onto us because we’re having too many babies (Ted Turner, who advocates reducing global population to a quarter of a billion people, has FIVE children, but I digress). You can be sure that the oil giants – all of whom pay ZERO Federal income taxes – will, through some “bureaucratic SNAFU”, be given a loophole or a backdoor to protect their profits while we, the People, pay out the ass. Abolish the State, and you solve any and all eco-crises.

  • Anonymous

    This is particularly hysterical because, aside from the obvious stupidity – warming causes cold – years ago they were saying that Great Britain would never see snow again. Now the warming causes *more* snow. Warming causing excess moisture in the air would make sense, except the manner in which it falls back to earth – ice crystals. Doesn’t anyone get tired of these quacks blaming *everything* on global warming? Last year Gordon Brown actually blamed earthquakes on global warming. These people are all lunatic eugenicists who need an excuse to cull the vast majority of the human population and “global warming” is their excuse. “The enemy of man is man.” There are a whole host of serious environmental problems – most of them caused by the same states and their corporate clients who advocate draconian climate change legislation and global governance – that are ignored. Water fluoridation, geo-engineering, genetically modified foods, petroleum. If oil companies didn’t have bought and paid for representatives in the legislatures of our so-called democracies, free, infinite energy would be available to us all. A guy named Tesla had it figured out a hundred years ago. They destroyed him because there’s no profit in free energy. Now the blame for the pollution they facilitate through their crony capitalism is passed onto us because we’re having too many babies (Ted Turner, who advocates reducing global population to a quarter of a billion people, has FIVE children, but I digress). You can be sure that the oil giants – all of whom pay ZERO Federal income taxes – will, through some “bureaucratic SNAFU” – be given a loophole or a backdoor to protect their profits while we, the People, pay out the ass. Abolish the State, and you solve any and all eco-crises.

  • kiboshki

    Media continues to do a huge disservice by using the denier term “global warming”. While libs are generally discerning enough to understand the terms “global warming” and “climate change” refer to the same thing, cons are too limited in their vocabulary to comprehend this. Paper abstract.

  • kiboshki

    I also understand that global warming causes troll deniers to double post.

  • Anonymous

    What was it about my comment that constituted “trolling”? Sorry I’ve never used this forum before. I accidentally posted twice. Do you have a substantive response to what I said? Or is your brain a puddle of jelly and you’re only capable of spewing regurgitated platitudes. There are a legion of sober, intelligent “deniers” who understand that warm cannot cause cold, and if you jump off a cliff you don’t fall up. Science is NEVER settled, there is NEVER a consensus. If history is any indicator, everything we think we know now will be proven wrong at some point in the future. Otherwise we’d still think our planet sits in the center of a universe that revolves around it. You would never have heard of the great minds of history, who almost always dismantled the status quo, often at great peril to themselves. Was Copernicus a geo-centric denier? Galileo? And while we’re wasting our time trying to nuance “science” (which has been bastardized to mean “opinion” or “agenda”) to mean hot is cold, down is up, and black is white, there are real environmental crimes occurring that you and I would probably agree on if you weren’t too intent on being annoying.

  • Robert

    Gnosis, you snarky devil, you. Warming causes cold. Tsk, tsk. Obviously that’s not the issue. The issue is that 1) warming causes increased evaporation from bodies of water, soil, plants, etc; 2) as the temperature increases, any volume of air is able to hold increasingly larger amounts of water; 3) during the winter months, because of the decrease of insolation the temperature drops; 4) if there is sufficient moisture in the atmosphere as the temperature drops the water vapor will condense and fall to the Earth as snow; 5) because the Earth’s overall temperature is rising there is more water vapor in the atmosphere and therefore in the winter when it is sufficiently cold there will be more snow. Quod erat demonstrandum. An example to study that doesn’t require acceptance of global warming is lake effect snow; areas on the leeward side of Lake Superior get considerably more snow (up to 300%) than those on the windward side. Check it out, it’s actually quite fascinating! Although you appear to hold part of the puzzle you balk at the idea that it will still be sufficiently cold (at least for a while) for it to snow during the winter. Climatologists are indicating a change of 4°F-7°F is possible by 2100. If your average winter temperature now is 20°F, even if you increase to an average of 27° you are still going to be cold enough for snow. Given the increased amount of water vapor (which you tacitly accept) increased snowfall during the winter is a predictable outcome of global warming.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1180173212 Jean C Harris

    That is an interesting finding. I wouldn’t say conservatives’ vocabularies are limited; I would say they are more susceptible to framing. That seems to be the conclusion of the article-writer, at least. I haven’t read the paper yet. I think, too, that cons aren’t as scientifically discerning as libs, so the ability to process from “global warming” to “more moisture in atmosphere” to “more snow in winter” is lacking.

  • Anonymous

    No one said that warming causes cold. You are an idiot.

  • kiboshki

    (1) A combative denier post attached to a climate change article is almost certain to draw negative comments; did you expect otherwise? Possibly not your explicit intent, but it’s still practically the very definition of trolling.

    (2) I didn’t actually say anything substantive, therefore there are no “regurgitated platitudes”. Those follow.

    (3) For every brilliant mind in history that lead to a real scientific advancement, there were countless others who were just idiots. We call those guys “quacks”. This is why why we also call deniers “quacks”.

    (4) There is no “legion” of intelligent deniers; even the handful of actual scientists who don’t buy into AGW almost to a man do acknowledge the reality of GW, minus the A. And even most of those acknowledge AGW; they just disagree on the seriousness and extent of the problem.

    Now, there most certainly is a legion of holier-than-thou pseudo-skeptics pandering for unearned scientific recognition, mainly by doing the rightwing talk circuit. This legion is composed primarily of economists, politicians, lawyers, businessmen, and a few white coats on leashes– and of course the paid-for pundits who continuously parrot their loathesome propaganda.

    This legion of deniers has roots in the the tobacco industry’s despicable efforts of the 1960s-1980s to conceal the smoking/cancer link by befuddling the media, attacking the medical establishment’s science, and simple litigation. Check up on the shady, big-bucks, corporate past of folks like the proto-denier at JunkScience.

    This legion of deniers also uses the same victim-speak; repeats the same historical cases of persecution of brilliant thinkers; and makes the same appeals to political correctness that the creationism (no wait, that’s “creation science”, i mean “intelligent design theory”) movement uses to inject its disgusting philosphy into our education system. They change the terms of the debate. They strive to control the message through personal attacks rather than science. They update their arguments every couple years.

    The legion of deniers also operates not through actual science channels, but through the media. Unable to make a valid case in the tough-as-nails and very undemocratic world of real scientists, they vomit their confusion and deception into the airwaves and cyberspace for direct public consumption– all in order to get a “fair” hearing, by bypassing the toough vetting of the real scientific community.

    The forces behind the deniers in general are insidious, shadowy and demonstrably unscientific.

    (5) I can see that you have little understanding of the science involved, so my first advice to you is to actually go read up on the basics of the issue. Moreover, your talking point is actually a bit outdated. As I hinted in (4), even skeptical scienctists almost unanimously admit GW is occurring. Several fossil fuel companies, the expansionist Chinese, and even the Pentagon acknowledges it. Pretty much the only GW deniers left are pundits on the radio and cable news who have more money than sense; and idiot rightwing politicians– only in the US, mind you; rightwingers elsewhere understand the issue.

    (a) First point on the science: if warming and cooling can’t be connected, why do we have weather at all? How can the southern hemisphere have summer, while the northern hemisphere has winter? The short of it is that air and water move around and are always absorbing, releasing and exchanging energy. If it’s warmer in one place, that excess heat must have come from somewhere else, namely that other place that getting chillier.

    (b) Second point concerns vocab and science: Warming refers to increased energy in a system. Think about a swing. If you push it harder, you give it more energy. This extra energy manifests itself as an increase in the swing’s height, and the oomph it swings back with. However, you’ll also note the swing moves around; yes, it goes higher, but it still has low points. Now make it more complicated: put that swing on a spring. Now it bounces up and down and swings around in all kinds of unpredictable ways– and it gets even more chaotic the harder you push it. The interesting thing is that when it’s bouncing around like that, it can actually bottom out lower than with a lighter push. That is, with a harder push and thus more energy or “warming”, the swing frequently hits lots of high points (analogous to “hot spells”) but it also occasionally bounces through an exceptionally low point (“cold snap”). Yes, it’s a simplicistic analogy, but take that concept, blow it up gazillionfold to the scale of the earth’s atmosphere, and maybe you can understand that a warmer (ie, more energetic) atmosphere can, in fact, produce very cold weather.

    This is a very vague and imperfect analogy. Just go read up on the specifics of actual climate change, rather than bouncing swings– and please don’t whip out the “warming can’t cause cooling” canard, because it simply makes you sound uninformed.

    (6) Yup, I agree there are other environmental concerns; and personally, I think it’s too late to actually do anything about GW. But we may as well get ready for its increasingly unpleasant effects. Nice thing is, there are nearly limitless opportunities to deal with GW while expanding the economy, addressing other critical environmental issues, improving transportation and resurce distribution networks, improving efficiency of technologies of all sorts, yadda, yadda, yadda. Seriously, it’s gold mine for an innovative people. Sadly, apparently our nothing-is-impossible “moon race” days are over. We’re become ignorant, disintersted, money-obsessed Americans, poxed by countless uninformed stooges insisting on a 100% pointless political “debate”, all ultimately for the benefit of a handful of status quo billionaires.

    We’re done. The world is done. Stick a fork in it. Thanks.

  • kiboshki

    Indeed, you’re quite correct. My terms “limited” and “discerning” were used because I was irate when I wrote them.

    That so many people are so susceptible to the specific terminology used to frame an issue is a very, very frustrating characteristic of any debate nowadays. Sadly, it dramiatically decreases the odds of having a productive discussion, because it forces us to redefine all the terms from the get go, just to get people so they’re speaking the same language. And we have to do this every. single. time.

    It’s very discouraging. ;-)

  • Robert

    Your Global Deniers’ Legion consists of 3% of the field, and although 3% is not insignificant it is far from being legion, sober or otherwise. To say that science is never settled, although correct in spirit, is sufficiently misleading as to be wrong. You bring up the examples of Copernicus and Galileo; for my demonstration I will use them as well, in that they are indicative of my point. You say that science is never settled, however as far as the theory that we live in a geocentric universe is concerned it is. That thesis has been discarded, as has been the heliocentric thesis, and I know there are individuals who believe in geocentrism (roughly 20% of Americans…) but then for $10,000 dollars Maharishi would teach you to levitate… Science is like a phylogenetic tree: just as the ammonites are extinct and no longer contribute to the development of life and are therefore settled, theories such as geocentrism are “extinct”; as science they are settled. Certain aspects of science are also settled in the positive case, for instance the laws of gravitation or Ohm’s Law. That doesn’t mean all aspects of gravity have been resolved, they obviously have not and perhaps they never shall be, but the jury is in on the basic law and it is settled; nobody’s going back to Aristotle’s explanation, Newton’s laws work consistently (at least within their sphere of reference).

  • Robert

    We’re probably too late to prevent serious devastation to the ecosystem and technological civilization. What we are now debating is the intensity of the catastrophe. I’d much rather live in a world with 400 ppm of CO2 in the atmosphere than one with 750 ppm. Perhaps it’s too late to help our grandchildren but it’s not too late to help our descendants ten generations from now. To do anything less would be racial suicide.

    By the way, a powerful and provocative post. Thank you.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_PCHLMPBJKYTW3LJBHZEZMO3TXQ What Ever

    God, long winded posts are tiresome, click.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_IOO5JIYNYXAHBUJRQR6ZV33RVY gail

    So how do you explain the rise in the Earth’s temperatures – a fact?

  • Wyrdless

    Considering that aquifers are emptying at an alarming rate globally, Isn’t increased air moisture a good thing?

  • Anonymous

    I wouldn’t call his post combative, unless you consider calling the ever-changing list of things caused by “global warming” combative.

    please don’t whip out the “warming can’t cause cooling” canard, because it simply makes you sound uninformed.

    I’m gonna go home and crank up the heat so I can chill me some brews for later… Thanks for that handy little tip.

  • Robert

    The problem with the scenario we appear to be facing, increased moisture in the atmosphere leading to increased precipitation, is that it implies cataclysmic events are more likely to occur. The most horrendous recent example would be the 200 inches in five days that fell in the Swat Valley in 2010, initiating Pakistan’s massive flooding. Queensland’s seemingly unending flooding and Darwin’s 27 inches in three days are still barely a month ago. The point being, if we get an immense amount of rain all at once it causes massive flooding, significant loss of life, massive property damage and siltation of fields while doing virtually nothing to replenish any but the most shallow aquifers. Obviously, if they weren’t destroyed outright the reservoirs would be recharged, but such impounded water is increasingly being used to take care of the needs of cities and industry, to the detriment of agriculture. Living in California I am alarmed by Peak Oil but I am terrified by the disappearance of potable water.

  • Robert

    Climatologists have been discussing the probability of stronger storms, including larger snow storms in winter, for several years. This is nothing new and to imply it is is either disingenuous or ignorant. It seems the exact same “debate” occurred during the previous winter (remember “Snowmageddon”?), with similar guffaws issuing from the denier camp. That last year’s harsh winter was followed by the hottest year on record, with its numerous weather-related disasters across the globe, ought to give even you pause for reflection.

  • kiboshki

    His post opens with, “This is particularly hysterical because, aside from the obvious stupidity….” Ten words into his enlightened post, he hasn’t said anything other than to insult the article as both hysterical and stupid. That is combative.

    Enjoy your brewskis. When go get them, stick your hand behind the fridge; you’ll note an awful lot of heat being generated by your cooler. When one place is made cold, another place is made hot. The physical world is highly interconnected, despite what the talking heads tell you.

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