As President Obama brokered a last-minute deal with China, India, and other nations to jointly fight global warming, American conservatives continued their assault on reason when it comes to climate science. All through the week, right-wingers from Rush Limbaugh to Fox News highlighted the fact that Copenhagen, the site of the international climate negotiations, received snow at Christmastime, which they falsely characterized as a “blizzard.” Now the Drudge Report and others are highlighting the real blizzard sweeping up the East Coast as a supposed contrast to “global warming”:
Even CNN’s Ed Henry piled on, saying “DC snowstorm chills Pelosi’s global warming trip,” calling it a “strange twist.” Drudge, of course, linked to the story.
In reality, intense winter storms of this type are an observed result of climate change. As the Global Climate Change Impacts in the United States report issued by the federal government describes, warmer oceans and shifting atmospheric circulation are bringing “stronger and more frequent” winter storms to the United States:
— “Cold-season storm tracks are shifting northward and the strongest storms are likely to become stronger and more frequent.”
— “In winter and spring, northern areas are expected to receive significantly more precipitation than they do now, because the interaction of warm and moist air coming from the south with colder air from the north is projected to occur farther north than it did on average in the last century. The more northward incursions of warmer and moister air masses are expected to be particularly noticeable in northern regions that will change from very cold and dry atmospheric conditions to warmer but moister conditions. Alaska, the Great Plains, the upper Midwest, and the Northeast are beginning to experience such changes for at least part of the year, with the likelihood of these changes increasing over time.”
— “There is also evidence of an increase in the intensity of storms in both the mid- and high- latitude areas of the Northern Hemisphere, with greater confidence in the increases occurring in high latitudes. The northward shift is projected to continue, and strong cold season storms are likely to become stronger and more frequent, with greater wind speeds and more extreme wave heights.”
Joe Romm has more on the scientific understanding for why the snowstorms are a predicted consequence of climate change.