When it comes to the polar vortex, global warming is already getting the blame in 2014. But how could warmer climate change cause chilly weather in America?
As previously reported by The Inquisitr, the recently rescued scientists from the ship trapped in Antarctica's thickening ice were derided as "global warming alarmists," and even Donald Trump chimed in on the controversy.
No, a polar vortex isn't a last minute gift sent by Santa Claus for those wishing for snowy conditions. Nor is it something that sat down on the recent Ice Bowl 2 NFL game, which had Erin Andrews talking about licking goal posts.
The polar vortex, or an arctic cyclone as they're also known, is essentially a hurricane-like storm that hovers over the North Pole of the Earth. Like the tropical storms, the Arctic winds are moving up to 100 miles per hour around a relatively calm center. (We in Florida know this very well... minus the cold part.)
But it's possible for a polar vortex to split into two separate storms, with the separation potentially pushing them toward Canada, Russia, and the United States. According to Dr. James Overland, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) made the scientific prediction that localized warming could cause the polar vortex to split and thus that's how global warming supposedly could cause cold weather in the US.
"When the Polar Vortex — a ring of winds circling the Arctic — breaks down, this allows cold air to spill south, affecting the eastern United States and other regions. This can result in a warmer-than-average Arctic region and colder temperatures that may include severe winter weather events on the North American and European continents.... The idea is still very much in its infancy, but it's worth looking into. If it turns out to be right, it could help to explain the frigid winters the eastern United States and Europe have experienced these past two years."But NOAA wrote this back in 2011, back when they were talking about higher temperatures and reduced sea ice. Since then, northern Arctic ice has increased by 29 percent from 2012 to 2013, despite some 2007 reports claiming the Arctic would be ice-free by the summer of 2013. Air temperatures were also "particularly low" according to NOAA, beating the average since 1981 with the dropping temperatures. Even the latest data shows Antarctic sea ice is more than two standard deviations above normal.
At the same time, there are other researchers who successfully predicted the 2013 Arctic sea ice extent might increase when compared to 2012. Based upon statistical methods, it's also believed the Arctic ice will disappear completely around 2034 with the possibility of bouncing back after. Still others claim this worst case scenario may happen as soon as 2020. To the average onlooker, this probably seems rather odd since we have climate change models making contrary predictions. It could be almost be said that a theory that can predict everything predicts nothing at all, but the reason we have this difficulty is the computer models rely on the assumptions and data points entered by the researchers themselves.
The Polar Vortex DebateSo far, the two opposing camps have reacted as you might expect to the data. Climate change supporters link the polar vortex to global warming and climate change directly:
"This frigid weather is another example of the kind of violent and abrupt climate change that results from global warming. It's ongoing impact falls disproportionately on where you live, certainly, but especially if you are poor.... But while the science of changes to the polar vortex and its relationship to global warming are complex, the Christian theology of our failure to protect the creation is not complex."Yep, supporting the global warming effort just became your religious duty. Others still blame the polar vortex split for the cold but claim global warming models couldn't have predicted this result:
"The global warming / climate models could not have possibly predicted a severe winter. After all, the current stream of cold air and snow is just one of nature's aberrations. Relax; everything else is just fine."But those claiming a global warming hoax believe the evidence for the current climate change theories have falsified them. As Forbes puts it:
"When the earth's climate reacts exactly in the opposite manner as predicted by global warming alarmists, they pretend they never made such scary predictions in the first place."After all, what use is a hypothesis or theory if its predictions are regularly proven false? Karl Popper's falsification quote comes to mind:
"In so far as a scientific statement speaks about reality, it must be falsifiable; and in so far as it is not falsifiable, it does not speak about reality."To be fair, the main two tenets of global warming theory are that the global temperature average, as adjusted by statistical methods, will slowly increase over the long term and this increase is claimed to be primarily caused by human-made pollution in the form of CO2, black soot, etc. where it's such an overriding factor in comparison to solar activity and other cyclical changes. So, in short, it's possible short term sub-hypotheses can be dead wrong while the long term theory is proven true, but we're all likely to be dead from old age by time that happens.
It must also be pointed out that only considering year-to-year changes in Arctic ice volume is not the best way to consider the facts. The Arctic ice extent can vary up and down every year by millions of kilometers. While Arctic ice increased up to two million square miles of sea ice in 2013 compared to 2012, this was lower than the 2.59 million average set during the last 34 years:
Seems pretty cut and dry, doesn't it? Based upon that graph there's a definite trend toward a gradual loss of Arctic ice. Unfortunately, this is where the science starts to get fuzzy. The reason the graph starts at 1979 is because that's when NASA satellites first began collecting the data after being launched in 1978. Critics of the anthropogenic global warming position believe the satellite monitoring happened to begin near the end of a 40 year cold cycle and that other records from the CIA, shipping logs, and news reports indicate a natural cycle in ice coverage.
For example, an IPCC report from 1974 includes satellite coverage:
Longer term air temperature recordings from Iceland also indicate a cyclical nature:
Supposedly, former Climatic Research Unit (CRU) Director HH Lamb claimed "the area of snow and ice... was 12 percent more in 1973 than in 1967, when the first satellite surveys were made," which would have the 1967 Arctic ice extent close to its more recent low point. Going back further, there are news reports from 1907, 1922, 1923, 1935, and 1947 talking about an ice-free Arctic and concerns over global warming turning the United States into the tropic.
The counter-argument to all this is to dismiss the previous data as irrelevant because the reports are about localized events, not an accurate measurement of the Arctic ice sheet as a whole. The linked to report also considers ice extent measurements from Iceland, the Nordic Sea, and the Norwegian Sea, and it's clearly indicated there is a slow decline in ice since about 1860. Of course, since carbon dioxide emissions from humans didn't begin in earnest until the 1940s, and those measurements are also localized, those data points seems to just muddle the picture further.
In the end, while it's possible to debate the issue, the long term data is fragmentary and inconclusive. But it is a fact that the recent 34 year trend definitely shows a decline in Arctic ice. It's also a fact that the cause of this ice loss will probably be debated for years to come.
Do you think global warming can be blamed for the polar vortex splitting and causing cold American weather? What do you think about climate change science in general?