Global warming is easy to believe when temperatures soar. But, global warming is not seasonal, it is here all year long. So, how do we rectify global warming when it is cold, perhaps even record setting cold? And, if that cold wave encompasses an entire continent, the conditions seem to disprove global warming, but do they? At the time of this article there is a serious cold wave covering most of North America. So, can we believe in global warming, and should we?
Global warming and Cold Winters
Global warming is counterintuitive to cold winters but not inconsistent. We must not rush to false conclusions. The problem is real, and is not abated by a cold front.
Global Warming and Temperature
A Simple Way to View Things
The cold temperature is, even though it encompasses most of a continent, less general than intuition might suggest. There is a certain amount of energy in the atmosphere at any time, and there is no reason for that amount to change radically. Global warming does increase atmospheric energy over time. But quick changes are not likely. So, if some places are cold when others are warm, and the energy distributes itself. And, the atmosphere is not limited to the lower few feet, it has depth.
Imagine a ball. Grasp the ball in one hand. If you could consider the outline of your hand, that could be analogous to the Jetstream. The Jetstream generally separates cold on the polar side from warm on the equatorial side.
Sometimes you might grip the ball with fingers extended. That is more like the Jetstream in winter. Other times your fingertips might be used. The shortened outline of your fingers is like the Jetstream is summer.
But, even in winter there is space between the fingers. That represents warm air. So, if North America and Western Europe are both cold, there is still the oceans, Asia, and the entire Southern Hemisphere to consider.
While we freeze we must be aware global warming is still a problem.
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Global Warming and Oceans
Great Heat Reservoirs
Chilling the land is one thing, but abating global warming would require chilling the oceans as well. Yes, cold weather can cover parts of the oceans, but the heat is not all right on the surface. The heat we have already added to the Earth has warmed the oceans below the surface, so chilling an ocean takes more than a cold outbreak.
Global Warming After Cold
A Simple Analogy
Imagine a pot of water. If you place it on the stove over a slow fire it will heat gradually. If you remove the pot from the stove and add some ice the water will cool, and assume a colder temperature. The fact the water was warming on the stove is no longer relevant. It has, in a sense, been reset. Can we reset the Earth with cold weather? The simple answer is no.
Unlike the pot of water, we do not chill the entire atmosphere. It is like adding a few ice cubes to one small area of the pot. But, even worse, we do not remove the source of the heating, greenhouse gases. They continue to be there, much as though the pot of water would have been left on the stove. And, as greenhouse gases continue to build up it is akin to turning the knob that regulates the stove slowly, heating at an ever faster rate. So, cold outbreaks do not reset the Earth.
Global Warming and Snow Cover
More Snow Is Good?
Snow does increase the albedo of the Earth, which means it will reflect more incoming energy when the snow cover is greater. But, more snow may also have undesired consequences.
I recently wrote an article for my website, blackspanielgallery.com, on coins of endangered animals from the Royal Canadian Mint. One endangered animal in the series is the caribou. I had not heard of the caribou being endangered. But, it is. I looked this up on the Defenders of Wildlife website, and found the reason cited as global warming. Global warming increases the temperature of the air, which allows it to hold more water. As the air is uplifted it cools and produces snow, more than it would have produced without global warming. The increased snow cover makes foraging for food by the caribou more difficult, hence the species is decreasing in number at an alarming rate.
Global warming is complex, and the Earth will not simply reset during cold weather. And, unexpected problems like increased snowfall exist. The best way to reset the earth is to stop adding greenhouse gases, and hasten their removal.
The introduction image is by Black spaniel Gallery.