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How Global Warming has Prevented Spring's Arrival

Thursday, 28 March 2013 14:51 By The Daily Take Team, The Thom Hartmann Program | Op-Ed

Snow on spring flowers(Photo: brambleroots / Flickr)Last week, Butler County, Ohio prosecutor Mike Gmoser "indicted" famed weather-predicting groundhog Punxsutawney Phil, after the groundhog inaccurately predicted an early spring.

Gmoser filed the tongue-in-cheek indictment after snow was forecast to fall in Butler County after the official start of spring.

The halfhearted indictment was dropped Tuesday however, when Gmoser realized that good old Phil had a "defense with teeth in it."

And, while this whole ordeal may seem quite silly, it did help to raise a very good point: How could Phil be so wrong about the arrival of spring, when he's usually pretty accurate?

Typically around this time of year, we expect to see spring flowers beginning to bloom in gardens after sun-spotted rain showers because, after all, spring showers are supposed to bring May flowers.

Instead, east coast Americans are still dealing with the effects of an already nasty winter season that has brought unprecedented amounts of snow to just about every region of the United States.

As a result, people are scratching their heads, wondering when spring will really get here.

Well now, it turns out that spring's slow arrival in the US is likely being driven by changes half a world way, in the Arctic.

Some of the nation's most prominent climate researchers announced at a news conference on Tuesday that melting Arctic sea ice may actually be the culprit behind winter's refusal to pack its bags and leave.

Scientists from NOAA and various university climatology departments said that melting Arctic sea ice may be weakening the planet's jet stream currents, and causing extreme weather systems to linger in the United States.

But how can melting ice cause colder temperatures? After all, that seems somewhat contradictory.

First, it's important to understand exactly what the jet stream is.

The jet stream is a huge air current that blows from west to east across the planet, miles above the Earth's surface.

The jet stream is responsible for moving along storm systems, and brings with it, depending on the season, both colder or warmer temperatures.

Normally, the jet stream moves at a relatively quick pace. That's why weather conditions and temperatures normally change fairly quickly, and don't stick around in any one place for too long.

For example, while a jet stream may cause cold temperatures and snow to hit Washington, D.C for a couple days, it can also replace those conditions with warmer temperatures and sunny skies in a matter of hours.

But, thanks to global warming and climate change, there is nothing normal about the way the jet stream is acting right now.

As the Earth continues to warm, Arctic sea ice continues to melt. And as that Arctic sea ice melts, it replaces white ice with blue water, which absorbs even more energy and heat from the sun.

As a result, all of that absorbed energy and heat in the arctic is affecting atmospheric pressures, and throwing the northern hemisphere's jet stream completely out of whack.

The change in atmospheric pressures is slowing the down the flow of the jet stream, which is causing seasons to change more slowly than usual.

This is why the blizzards along the East Coast this winter seemed to linger around, and relentlessly hammered the coast with foot after foot of snow.

Since the jet stream was moving so slowly, the freezing temperatures and snow had nowhere to go.

And it's only going to get worse.

Recent studies suggest that the entire Arctic may be ice-free by 2020, just seven years from now.

Already, over the course of the last 30 years, the Arctic has lost nearly 80 percent of its ice cover.

The bottom line here is that, if we do nothing to curb the current rate of climate change, the Arctic will continue to lose ice, the Arctic waters will continue to warm, and the jet stream will continue to slow.

And while we may think that freezing temperatures and snow storms during the first week of spring are bad now, just wait.

If we continue on the path that we're on, and continue to do nothing to stop the devastating effects of climate change, we won't just be talking about freezing temperatures during the first week of spring.

We'll be talking about the beginning of an out-of-control spiral of weather effects that could range from a new ice age to the death of our oceans.

When the story first broke about Mike Gmoser indicting Punxsutawney Phil, the media was all over it.

After all, who could resist a story about someone suing a groundhog over bad weather?

What the media wasn't all over however was climate change, the real reason why Phil's prediction missed the mark.

The only way we as a nation, and as a global community, can hope to make a meaningful change in the fight to save our planet is to get the media on board with the fight.

Global warming and climate change are the biggest threats that mankind has ever faced, and they get nowhere near the time they should in our media.

It's time to wake up the media, and inform the few climate change skeptics who are left.

Climate change is very real and it's here to stay.

And unless we do something about it, a late spring will be the smallest of our worries.

Copyright, Truthout. May not be reprinted without permission of the author.

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How Global Warming has Prevented Spring's Arrival

Thursday, 28 March 2013 14:51 By The Daily Take Team, The Thom Hartmann Program | Op-Ed

Snow on spring flowers(Photo: brambleroots / Flickr)Last week, Butler County, Ohio prosecutor Mike Gmoser "indicted" famed weather-predicting groundhog Punxsutawney Phil, after the groundhog inaccurately predicted an early spring.

Gmoser filed the tongue-in-cheek indictment after snow was forecast to fall in Butler County after the official start of spring.

The halfhearted indictment was dropped Tuesday however, when Gmoser realized that good old Phil had a "defense with teeth in it."

And, while this whole ordeal may seem quite silly, it did help to raise a very good point: How could Phil be so wrong about the arrival of spring, when he's usually pretty accurate?

Typically around this time of year, we expect to see spring flowers beginning to bloom in gardens after sun-spotted rain showers because, after all, spring showers are supposed to bring May flowers.

Instead, east coast Americans are still dealing with the effects of an already nasty winter season that has brought unprecedented amounts of snow to just about every region of the United States.

As a result, people are scratching their heads, wondering when spring will really get here.

Well now, it turns out that spring's slow arrival in the US is likely being driven by changes half a world way, in the Arctic.

Some of the nation's most prominent climate researchers announced at a news conference on Tuesday that melting Arctic sea ice may actually be the culprit behind winter's refusal to pack its bags and leave.

Scientists from NOAA and various university climatology departments said that melting Arctic sea ice may be weakening the planet's jet stream currents, and causing extreme weather systems to linger in the United States.

But how can melting ice cause colder temperatures? After all, that seems somewhat contradictory.

First, it's important to understand exactly what the jet stream is.

The jet stream is a huge air current that blows from west to east across the planet, miles above the Earth's surface.

The jet stream is responsible for moving along storm systems, and brings with it, depending on the season, both colder or warmer temperatures.

Normally, the jet stream moves at a relatively quick pace. That's why weather conditions and temperatures normally change fairly quickly, and don't stick around in any one place for too long.

For example, while a jet stream may cause cold temperatures and snow to hit Washington, D.C for a couple days, it can also replace those conditions with warmer temperatures and sunny skies in a matter of hours.

But, thanks to global warming and climate change, there is nothing normal about the way the jet stream is acting right now.

As the Earth continues to warm, Arctic sea ice continues to melt. And as that Arctic sea ice melts, it replaces white ice with blue water, which absorbs even more energy and heat from the sun.

As a result, all of that absorbed energy and heat in the arctic is affecting atmospheric pressures, and throwing the northern hemisphere's jet stream completely out of whack.

The change in atmospheric pressures is slowing the down the flow of the jet stream, which is causing seasons to change more slowly than usual.

This is why the blizzards along the East Coast this winter seemed to linger around, and relentlessly hammered the coast with foot after foot of snow.

Since the jet stream was moving so slowly, the freezing temperatures and snow had nowhere to go.

And it's only going to get worse.

Recent studies suggest that the entire Arctic may be ice-free by 2020, just seven years from now.

Already, over the course of the last 30 years, the Arctic has lost nearly 80 percent of its ice cover.

The bottom line here is that, if we do nothing to curb the current rate of climate change, the Arctic will continue to lose ice, the Arctic waters will continue to warm, and the jet stream will continue to slow.

And while we may think that freezing temperatures and snow storms during the first week of spring are bad now, just wait.

If we continue on the path that we're on, and continue to do nothing to stop the devastating effects of climate change, we won't just be talking about freezing temperatures during the first week of spring.

We'll be talking about the beginning of an out-of-control spiral of weather effects that could range from a new ice age to the death of our oceans.

When the story first broke about Mike Gmoser indicting Punxsutawney Phil, the media was all over it.

After all, who could resist a story about someone suing a groundhog over bad weather?

What the media wasn't all over however was climate change, the real reason why Phil's prediction missed the mark.

The only way we as a nation, and as a global community, can hope to make a meaningful change in the fight to save our planet is to get the media on board with the fight.

Global warming and climate change are the biggest threats that mankind has ever faced, and they get nowhere near the time they should in our media.

It's time to wake up the media, and inform the few climate change skeptics who are left.

Climate change is very real and it's here to stay.

And unless we do something about it, a late spring will be the smallest of our worries.

Copyright, Truthout. May not be reprinted without permission of the author.

Hide Comments

blog comments powered by Disqus