Global weirding, East Coast snow storms, and Vancouver’s snow shortage
The other day someone made the cleverest quip: “Hey Al Gore, how do you like your global warming now that it’s snowing and snow is cold, Al Gore?”
If only someone had made such a comment on the internet, or possibly Twitter; then I could link to it.
Do such comments deserve serious responses? No. They deserve mockery and a fistful of snow down the back of the neck.
But if you’re feeling charitable, here’s a quick explanation: We can absolutely expect climate change to bring blizzards in places that don’t normally see a lot of blizzards, like Washington, D.C. We can also absolutely expect more snow shortages in places that normally receive a lot of snowfall, like Vancouver, British Columbia. Climatologists expect just this sort of “global weirding”: less predictable, more extreme, more damaging.
For a smart explanation of this stuff, see Bryan Walsh in Time.
For even more science, see Jeff Masters of WunderBlog:
It’s not hard at all to get temperatures cold enough for snow in a world experiencing global warming. According to the 2007 Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report [PDF], the globe warmed 0.74°C (1.3°F) over the past 100 years. There will still be colder than average winters in a world that is experiencing warming, with plenty of opportunities for snow. The more difficult ingredient for producing a record snowstorm is the requirement of near-record levels of moisture. Global warming theory predicts that global precipitation will increase, and that heavy precipitation events–the ones most likely to cause flash flooding–will also increase. This occurs because as the climate warms, evaporation of moisture from the oceans increases, resulting in more water vapor in the air.