Natural cycles driving cold winter extremes – not warm extremes

During the last two winters, some regions of the northern hemisphere experienced extreme cold not seen in recent decades. But at the same time, the winters of 2009-10 and 2010-11 were also marked by more prominent, although less newsworthy, extreme warm spells.

New research examines daily wintertime temperature extremes since 1948 The study finds that the warm extremes were much more severe and widespread than the cold extremes during the northern hemisphere winters of 2009-10 (which featured an extreme snowfall episode on the East Coast dubbed “snowmaggedon”) and 2010-11. Moreover, while the extreme cold was mostly attributable to a natural climate cycle, the extreme warmth was not, the study concludes.

“We investigated the relationships between prominent natural climate modes and extreme temperatures, both warm and cold. Natural climate variability explained the cold extremes; the observed warmth was consistent with a long-term warming trend,” says Kristen Guirguis…lead author of the study, which is set to be published in the journal Geophysical Research Letters, a publication of the American Geophysical Union…

Guirguis’ team concludes that the extreme cold events by and large fell into norms that would be expected during the negative phase of the North Atlantic Oscillation (NAO), a prominent regional climate mode known to bring cold weather to northern Eurasia and Eastern North America…

“Over the last couple of years, natural variability seemed to produce the cold extremes, while the warm extremes kept trending just as one would expect in a period of accelerating global warming,” says Scripps climate researcher Alexander Gershunov, a report co-author.

Not that this will dissuade copout climate change deniers from leaping aboard any opportunity they perceive as momentary relief for their fossil fuel addiction. Junkies are still junkies.

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