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Sierra Daily

Feb 08, 2013

Don't Get Snowed

Staircase in blizzardAs a blizzard descends on the Northeast, the Union of Concerned Scientists presents a handy explanation of why serious winter weather does not mean global warming ain’t happening, useful for forwarding to your Drudge-Report-reading climate-contrarian friends and relatives.

In sum:

Weather is what’s happening outside your door right now. Climate is the pattern of weather over decades.

The past decade has been the hottest on record.

Hotter air -- caused primarily by heat-trapping emissions -- causes moisture to be held in the air. This added moisture can fuel more intense rain and snow.

The amount of rain or snow falling in the heaviest one percent of storms in the U.S. has risen nearly 20 percent.

The interplay of “Arctic sea ice decline, ocean patterns, upper winds, and the shifting shape of the jet stream could lead to extreme weather in various portions of the northern mid-latitudes – such that some places get tons of snow repeatedly and others are unseasonably warm.”

So stay safe, northeasterners. And take some solace that spring weather arrives 10 days earlier than it used to, on average.

Image by iStock/martinedoucet

HS_ReedMcManusReed McManus is a senior editor at Sierra. He has worked on the magazine since Ronald Reagan’s second term. For inspiration, he turns to cartoonist R. Crumb’s Mr. Natural, who famously noted: “Twas ever thus.”

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