By Darren Hong
Another month goes by, and the weather continues to fluctuate. When will it end? Will I ever stop wearing a jacket? These questions and more are answered in today’s blog.
Signs of global warming were first detected around the 1950s, but today, data suggests that global warming first began around the 1830s. Global warming occurs when carbon dioxide and other gasses are released through human activity, which causes heat to be trapped in the atmosphere. This results in a positive feedback loop, where heat continues to build up in our atmosphere. Think about how you stay under your blanket in the winter. Some evidence for this includes the rising temperatures in the ocean, the melting of polar ice caps, and overall air temperature increases.
You may be wondering how this relates to the relative temperature staying colder in our area. This is answered by Professor Dim Coumou, who works at the Faculty of Science, Water and Climate Risk at Vrije Universiteit in Amsterdam. According to Coumou, changes in the Arctic region resulted in a stronger polar vortex. The polar vortex in the Arctic is made of “a band of strong westerly winds that forms in the stratosphere”. Global warming disrupts this effect, and as the stable vortex is disrupted, the cold wind flows downwards towards the United States, where it causes longer winters and generally colder weather.
To summarize, the longer winters that we’ve been experiencing are caused by a polar vortex being stretched, thus causing the cold winds from the North Pole to linger in our area.
Hopefully, this guide has informed you about the causes of global warming and the immediate effects that have been observed. Happy hiking!