February 19 News: Global Warming Brings More Potent Blizzards, But Less Total Annual Snowfall

A warmer atmosphere due to climate change can hold, and dump, more moisture. And two soon-to-be-published studies demonstrate how there can be more giant blizzards yet less snow overall each year. [WaPo]

The United States has been walloped by twice as many of the most extreme snowstorms in the past 50 years than in the previous 60 years, according to an upcoming study on extreme weather by leading federal and university climate scientists. This also fits with a dramatic upward trend in extreme winter precipitation — both rain and snow — in the Northeastern U.S. charted by the National Climatic Data Center.

Yet the Global Snow Lab at Rutgers University says spring snow cover in the Northern Hemisphere has shrunk on average by 1 million square miles in the past 45 years.

And an upcoming study in the Journal of Climate says computer models predict annual global snowfall to shrink by more than a foot in the next 50 years. The study’s author said most people live in parts of the United States that are likely to see annual snowfall drop between 30 percent and 70 percent by the end of the century….

Ten climate scientists say the idea of less snow and more blizzards makes sense: A warmer world is likely to decrease the overall amount of snow falling each year and shrink the snow season. But when it is cold enough for a snowstorm to hit, the slightly warmer air is often carrying more moisture, producing potentially historic blizzards.

“Strong snowstorms thrive on the ragged edge of temperature — warm enough for the air to hold lots of moisture, meaning lots of precipitation, but just cold enough for it to fall as snow,” said Mark Serreze, director of the National Snow and Ice Data Center. “Increasingly, it seems that we’re on that ragged edge.”

[Related Post: Historic Blizzard Poised to Strike New England: What Role Is Climate Change Playing?]

According to researchers at Rice University, air pollution causes heart attacks and death, especially when the pollutants include ozone and particulate matter, and more often in the summer time when ozone levels are higher. [Forbes]

BP will go to trial next work over civil claims made against it by Gulf Coast states, businesses, individuals and the federal government for environmental-related damages due to the Deepwater Horizon oil spill. [WSJ]

New York Times public editor knocks Tesla article for poor judgment and imprecise notes. Also suggests Tesla was remiss in not emphasizing the need to maximize the car’s range. [NYTimes]

The U.N. said today that the Arctic needs to be better protected from a rush for natural resources, brought on as melting ice makes mineral and energy exploration easier. [The Guardian]

Scientists are sounding the alarm that sea level rise, storms, and higher temperatures due to climate change pose a growing threat to marine turtle populations. [Times of India]

The European Union will vote today on whether to cut a record surplus of emissions permits from their carbon trading scheme, which has driven carbon prices to an all-time low. [Bloomberg]

Turkey is hoping to find shale gas reserves big enough to reduce its energy import dependency, and is in talks with foreign firms about widening exploration. [Reuters]

2 Responses to February 19 News: Global Warming Brings More Potent Blizzards, But Less Total Annual Snowfall

  1. DRT says:

    “When it comes to climate change, Americans place great trust in their local TV weathercaster, which has led climate experts to see huge potential for public education.”

  2. Will Fox says:

    Carbon Trust launches scheme to tackle water waste:

    “It is estimated that more than 60% of Europe’s largest cities consume water faster than it can be replenished … Water use is forecast to increase in developing nations by 50% by 2025 and by 18% in developed nations.”