Rapid Arctic warming is linked to extreme US cold snaps, study argues

Scientists present compelling evidence that a phenomenon affecting the polar vortex is the missing link, Andy Gregory reports

Friday 03 September 2021 01:29
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<p>Ice floes fill the Hudson River in 2014 during a cold snap caused by the stratospheric polar vortex</p>

Ice floes fill the Hudson River in 2014 during a cold snap caused by the stratospheric polar vortex

Rapid warming and melting sea ice in the Arctic is likely to be driving an increase in extreme winter weather events in the United States, a new study argues.

While climate breakdown has been linked to increases in some weather extremes, such as heatwaves and the hurricane that churned its way up the Gulf Coast this week, no concrete link has previously been made with severe winter weather events, according to the authors.

Yet, contrary to current climate modelling projections, extreme winter weather events have been increasing across the northern hemisphere since 1990, they argue – pointing notably to the cold snap in February which drove the collapse of the Texas energy grid and was blamed for at least 111 deaths.

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