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Warmer Arctic Winters Linked to East Coast Winter Storms
Politicians can stop using cold winter weather as an excuse to deny global warming. A study published Tuesday in Nature Communications links warmer Arctic temperatures to colder, snowier winters in the eastern U.S.
The research, conducted by scientists at Atmospheric and Environmental Research and Rutgers University-New Brunswick, concluded that extreme winters are two-to-four times more likely to occur on the East Coast when the Arctic is warmer than average.
Arctic temperatures are also linked to colder winters in northern Europe and Asia, the study found. On the other hand, the western U.S. tends to see colder winters when the Arctic is also unusually cold.
The results indicate that the winter of 2017-2018, which was the warmest on record for the Arctic but brought England its coldest March 1 since 1785 and gifted New England with three storms in two weeks, was not an anomaly, but rather part of a larger trend.
The study based its findings on data from 1950 to 2016, but paid special attention to "the era of Arctic amplification," which began around 1990. Arctic amplification (AA) is the name given to the observation that the Arctic is warming two-to-three times faster than the rest of the world. Studies had predicted that AA would lead to warmer winters and lighter snow falls, but that has not been the case.
The study acknowledges that its findings only prove correlation, not causation. However, the correlation increased when the metrics used to assess Arctic warming led the metrics used to assess winter severity by five days. This suggests that if there is a casual relationship, the Arctic is driving weather events further south, and not the other way around.
In a University of Rutgers press release, study co-author and Rutgers marine-and-coastal-science professor Jennifer Francis explained how that might happen. "Warm temperatures in the Arctic cause the jet stream to take these wild swings, and when it swings farther south, that causes cold air to reach farther south," she said.
But James Screen, an associate professor of climate science at the University of Exeter, questioned that hypothesis in The Verge. Screen pointed out that climate models do not show a warmer Arctic driving colder winters. "Either the models are wrong, which is possible, or the interpretation of the observed correlation is wrong," he told The Verge.
Even if the warmer Arctic temperatures are not driving winter storms like Riley and Quinn, that doesn't mean climate change itself is not to blame. Warming ocean temperatures "produce stronger nor'easters like we've seen this season, with larger snowfall totals," Michael Mann, director of the Earth System Science Center at Pennsylvania State University, told The Verge in an email.
- Climate Change: Vital Signs of the Planet: Arctic winter warming ... ›
- Is warming in the Arctic behind this year's crazy winter weather? ›
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‘Companies Should Not Be Allowed to Use Hazardous Ingredients in Products People Use’: Michelle Pfeiffer Speaks Up for Safer Cosmetics
The beauty products we put on our skin can have important consequences for our health. Just this March, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) warned that some Claire's cosmetics had tested positive for asbestos. But the FDA could only issue a warning, not a recall, because current law does not empower the agency to do so.
Michelle Pfeiffer wants to change that.
The actress and Environmental Working Group (EWG) board member was spotted on Capitol Hill Thursday lobbying lawmakers on behalf of a bill that would increase oversight of the cosmetics industry, The Washington Post reported.
By Julia Conley
Scientists at the United Nations' intergovernmental body focusing on biodiversity sounded alarms earlier this month with its report on the looming potential extinction of one million species — but few heard their calls, according to a German newspaper report.
The climate crisis is a major concern for American voters with nearly 40 percent reporting the issue will help determine how they cast their ballots in the upcoming 2020 presidential election, according to a report compiled by the Yale Program on Climate Change Communication.
Of more than 1,000 registered voters surveyed on global warming, climate and energy policies, as well as personal and collective action, 38 percent said that a candidate's position on climate change is "very important" when it comes to determining who will win their vote. Overall, democratic candidates are under more pressure to provide green solutions as part of their campaign promises with 64 percent of Democrat voters saying they prioritize the issue compared with just 34 percent of Independents and 12 percent of Republicans.
President Donald Trump has agreed to sign a $19.1 billion disaster relief bill that will help Americans still recovering from the flooding, hurricanes and wildfires that have devastated parts of the country in the past two years. Senate Republicans said they struck a deal with the president to approve the measure, despite the fact that it did not include the funding he wanted for the U.S.-Mexican border, CNN reported.
"The U.S. Senate has just approved a 19 Billion Dollar Disaster Relief Bill, with my total approval. Great!" the president tweeted Thursday.
"There was a lot of devastation throughout the state," Governor Mike Parson said at a Thursday morning press conference, as NPR reported. "We were very fortunate last night that we didn't have more injuries than what we had, and we didn't have more fatalities across the state. But three is too many."