Winter sport extremists are happy this winter as the 2010-11 season has shown record snowfall in the Northeast!
New Jersey, which usually doesn’t see more than 40 inches of snow, was forced to shut down in a state of emergency this past Christmas. The more northern states have seen an increase in snow fall as well and some claim this is the worst winter since the late 70s.
“Some claim this is the worst winter since the late 70s”
What can possibly be the cause of this harsh winter on the east coast? According to Dr. Donald Lovejoy, Palm Beach Atlantics professor of oceanography and geology, the heavy snowfall is a strong indicator of global warming.
“I really think the warming of the planet is putting more moisture in the air.” said Lovejoy who explained that an increase in moisture results in higher precipitation. If this is the case, higher precipitation in the northeast during the winter would result in snowfall.
Global Warming, as Lovejoy explains, causes an increase in evaporation which then leads to more moisture in the atmosphere. This excess moisture is believed to have come from the Arctic Ocean where there has been a recorded 30 percent decrease in surface ice.
Shockingly, while record snow fall and freezing temperatures plague the northeast of the U.S, some northern parts of Canada and Greenland are experiencing temperatures some 20 degrees above average for this time of year. According to Michelle L’Heureux a National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration researcher, the high temperatures in the arctic have weakened a pressure barrier between the arctic and southern regions just below. This weakened barrier has allowed frigid air to literally creep down into lower latitudes. Warm air then circles back up to take place of the cool air that has travelled down. This “swapping” of air is resulting in the unusual warm arctic temperatures while we receive freezing conditions in return.
What does this mean for sunny south Florida? Unfortunately for us spoiled subtopic dwellers the jet stream carries cool air down from the northeast. This is why we have experienced lower temperatures, especially in late January, over this past winter. Granted we didn’t have to brave a blizzard, but temperatures did drop significantly.
Global warming is still up for debate and many argue that this record breaking winter is only cyclical and natural. Meteorologists are quick to point out that data recording instruments only date back to the 1800’s so naturally records will be broken as data is still very young.
Whether it be Mother Nature, or a sure sign of Global warming, there is no debate that it has been a bad winter for most of the United States this year.