According to one study, climate change-induced warming in the Arctic has increased the number of polar vortices occurring when the frigid air from the far north is immersing the central and eastern United States in the frigid.
A study by the journal Science Thursday shows for the first time the link between polar changes and the freeze on Valentine’s Week in February, causing widespread power outages in Texas, killing more than 170 people and causing damage of at least $ 20 billion. Did.
Polar vortex usually keeps ice air trapped in the North Pole. However, warmer air weakens the vortex, allowing it to stretch and wander south. Judas Cohen, the lead author of the study, a winter storm expert in atmospheric environmental studies, a non-Boston commercial company, has more than doubled the number of weakenings per year since the early 1980s. Said.
“It’s counterintuitive that a rapid warming of the Arctic could lead to increased frigidity far south of Texas, but the lesson learned from our analysis is the anticipation of climate change. It’s about anticipating what’s going on, “says Cohen.
Climate scientists are still discussing how global warming is affecting Coldsnap. They know it’s reducing the overall number of cold days, but they’re trying to figure out if it leads to deeper coldsnaps.
Cohen’s work is the first to use atmospheric change measurements to help explain phenomena that climate models have struggled to explain.
Cohen’s study “provides a potentially simpler interpretation of what’s happening,” said Michael Mann, a climate scientist at Pennsylvania State University who wasn’t part of the study.
Cohen was able to show that there was a dramatic difference in internal warming in the Arctic Circle itself. This affects how the polar vortex grows and weakens.
When northern England and Scandinavia become warmer than around Siberia, polar vortices extend eastward and cold air travels southward from Siberia across the Arctic to the central and eastern United States.
Jennifer Francis, a climate scientist at the Woodwell Climate Research Center in Cape Cod, said, “The February 2021 Texas cold explosion is a poster child about the relationship between Arctic changes and low latitude cold explosions.” increase. However, it was not part of Cohen’s work. “This study incorporates this controversial hypothetical link and is firmly moving towards an accepted science,” she said.
This Associated Press series was created in collaboration with the Science Education Department of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute. AP is solely responsible for all content.