Snow storms in North America and Europe: real-time consequences of climate change

Feb 28, 2021

Snow storms in North America and Europe may give the impression that “global cooling” is taking place. Nothing is further from the truth. The cooling is a consequence of the weakening of the Arctic jet stream boundary, allowing freezing air masses to flow out of the Arctic circle.

The northern freeze

Warnings by leading climate scientists regarding the high sensitivity of the atmosphere in response to abrupt compostional changes, such as near-doubling of greenhouse gas concentrations, are now manifest: According to Wallace Broecker (the “father” of climate science):

“The paleoclimate record shouts out to us that, far from being self-stabilizing, the Earth’s climate system is an ornery beast which overreacts to even small nudges, and humans have already given the climate a substantial nudge”.

As stated by James Zachos,

“The Paleocene hot spell should serve as a reminder of the unpredictable nature of climate.”

As snow storms sweep the northern continents, reaching as far south as Texas and Greece, those who still question the reality and consequences of global climate change, including in our government, may rejoice since in their view they may have an argument against global warming.

Unfortunately, climate science indicates these fronts are the consequence of a weakened circum-Arctic jet stream boundary, the result of the warming of the Arctic and therefore a reduced contrast between the Arctic and high latitude zones in Europe and America.

The reduced contrast allows migration of masses of cold Arctic air southward and of tropical air northward, ensuing in a fundamental shift in the global climate pattern.

The science behind the polar vortex. (NOAA)

Major consequences of the current shift in state of the climate system pertain to the weakening of the polar boundaries and the migration of climate zones toward the poles. Transient cooling pauses are projected as a result of the flow of cold ice melt water from Greenland and Antarctica into the oceans, leading to stadial cooling intervals.

The extreme rate at which the global warming and the shift of climate zones are taking place, virtually within one generation, faster than major past warming events such as at the Paleocene-Eocene boundary 56 million years ago, renders the term “climate change” hardly appropriate, since what we are looking at is a sudden and abrupt event.

According to Giger (2021):

“Tipping points could fundamentally disrupt the planet and produce abrupt change in the climate. A mass methane release could put us on an irreversible path to full land-ice melt, causing sea levels to rise by up to 30 meters. We must take immediate action to reduce global warming and build resilience with these tipping points in mind.”

Computer modelling does not always capture the sensitivity, complexity and feedbacks of the atmosphere-ocean-land system as observed from paleoclimate studies. Many models portray gradual or linear responses of the atmosphere to compositional variations, which overlook self-amplifying effects and transient reversals associated with melting of the ice sheets and cooling of the oceans by the flow of ice melt.

Further to NASA’s reported mean land-ocean temperature rise of +1.18°C in March 2020 above pre-industrial temperatures, relative to the 1951-1980 baseline, large parts of the continents, including central Asia, west Africa, eastern South America and Australia are warming toward mean temperatures of +2°C and higher.

The late 20th century to early 21st century global greenhouse gas levels and regional warming rates have reached a high factor to an order of magnitude faster than those of past geological and mass extinction events, with major implications for the nature and speed of extreme weather events.

For these reasons the term “climate change” for the extreme warming, which is reaching +1.5°C over the continents and more than +3°C over the Arctic over a period of less than 100 years, no longer applies. What the world is looking at is a fundamental abrupt shift in the conditions which have allowed civilization to rise.

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