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Average global temperatures, as you’ve probably heard, are rising fast. In 2016, the average surface temperature of Earth’s land and water hit 68.96 degrees, up 1.69 degrees from the global average seen in the 20th century. But in the Arctic, things are warming up even faster. When Arctic sea ice melts (as it inevitably does when the planet heats up), that bright, cool, sun-reflecting surface disappears with it. In its stead, one finds a dark, heat-absorbing ocean. Essentially, the Arctic has more to lose, so it’s losing its chill faster. That's why the Arctic clocked in around 14 degrees warmer than normal this winter.
Unlike Vegas, what happens in the Arctic most definitely does not stay in the Arctic. Cohen's latest research suggests that when pressure changes push cold air out of the pole, it increases the probability for extreme weather in the eastern United States. While correlation certainly doesn’t equal causation, Cohen nonetheless felt emboldened enough to write, “This finding suggests that Arctic variability has a stronger influence on severe winter weather events than does [El Niño-Southern Oscillation] variability.”
Statement - Glance - Nothing - People - Weather
This statement, at first glance, is nothing to blink at. For most people, it’s satisfying just to know a little more about the weather and what could be driving it. But for Cohen, demonstrating this relationship between Arctic warming and North American weather feels paradigm-shifting. For years, he has been fighting what he perceives to be an over-reliance on the El Niño-Southern Oscillation model, also called ENSO. First observed in 1897, ENSO describes a phenomenon whereby variations in winds and sea surface temperatures over the Pacific Ocean affect the climate observed in the tropics and subtropics. When the sea temperature warms, its effects are called the El Niño phase; when ocean temperatures drop, we experience La Niña.
For the last century or so,...
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