A record-shattering cold gripped the Northeastern United States during late December and early January. Meanwhile, a so-called bomb-cyclone brought in Winter Storm Grayson with its blizzard winds and heavy snowfall. Is all of this extreme weather normal, a product of global warming, or perhaps bone-chilling evidence that our climate is not really heating up after all?
Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory post-doctoral fellow Deepti Singh studies human impact on climate and extreme weather. She believes the reasons for the big chill and powerful snow storm may be linked to climate change, and that this is only the beginning of the weather impacts humanity can expect.
“The global warming that has occurred so far is merely a fraction of what we’re going to see in the future, and global warming does not mean we’re not going to have winters,” Singh explained.
Breaking it down, the 10-day spate of extremely frigid days was the result of typical winter weather patterns, intensified by a clash in temperatures between the western US, which is experiencing global warming at a faster pace than the eastern US.
“It’s normal in that it’s winter time and we can have snaps of cold weather. It’s abnormal because it has covered such a wide part of the US. And it’s also abnormal because it persisted for a couple of weeks,” said Singh.