Massive Snowstorms Coming In The Northeast

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Massive Snowstorms Coming In The Northeast

Post by Nowhere To Run on Mon May 13, 2013 6:20 pm

Feb. 9, 2012

Climate change is serving up doses of extreme weather, and the Northeast may get more intense blizzards in the future!



By Marlene Cimons
DailyClimate.org

As the Northeast digs out from under a mammoth blizzard, it might
seem easy for climate change skeptics to point to such intense storms as
evidence that global warming isn't real.

They would be wrong.
"Climate change contrarians and deniers love to cherry-pick
individual events to argue that they are somehow inconsistent with
global warming, when they are not," said Michael Mann, director of the
Earth System Science Center at Pennsylvania State University. "As long
as it's cold enough to snow – which it will be in the winter – you
potentially will get greater snowfalls."
The reality is that such snowstorms often don't occur despite global
warming, but because of it. "It's basic physics, and it's irrefutable,"
Mann said.

Super-saturated air

The science behind this is clear: Warmer temperatures cause more
water to evaporate into the atmosphere, and warmer air holds more water
than cooler air. The air's "water-holding capacity," in fact, rises
about 7 percent with each Celsius degree of warming. This results in air
that becomes super-saturated with water, often bringing drenching
rainfall followed by flooding or – if it is cold enough – heavy and
intense snowfall.

A study of 20th century snowstorms, published in the August 2006
Journal of Applied Meteorology and Climatology – before the big storms
of recent years – found that most major snowstorms in the United States
occurred during warmer-than-normal years. The authors predicted that "a
warmer future climate will generate more winter storms."

True, warming temperatures are bringing us milder and shorter winters
in most areas, including a later start to winter and earlier onset of
spring. But we still are experiencing big snowstorms, especially in the
northern part of the country. Climatologists predict that the coming
decades will bring more of the same, meaning unusually warm winters, as
well as potentially record-breaking blizzards.

'Snowmageddon'


We will see a shorter snow season, but more intense individual snowfall events.
Few people will forget the monster snowstorms that walloped the Atlantic states in 2010, most notably a back-to-back punch only days apart in February that broke
records in many major cities and, in Washington, D.C., became known as
"Snowmageddon." Rare storms also brought heavy snows to the deep South,
including the northwest panhandle of Florida. In fact, by the second
week of February, every state but Hawaii had snow on the ground.

The world is growing hotter due to human activities, among them the
burning of fossil fuels like coal and oil, leading to dramatic increases
of greenhouse gases, primarily carbon dioxide, in the atmosphere. These
greenhouse gases absorb and radiate heat, and are reconfiguring the
Earth's climate.

The global average temperature since 1900 has risen by about 1.5
degrees Fahrenheit, and by 2100 is projected to rise another two to 10
degrees F, according to U.S. Global Change Research Program. The U.S.
average temperature has risen by a comparable amount and is very likely
to rise more than the global average over this century, with some
variation from place to place, USGCRP says

Shorter season


Paradoxically, winter, as a season, likely will become shorter as a
result of increasing warming – potentially hurting winter recreation
areas that depend on tourism – while snow, when it does fall, probably
will be heavier. "Most likely we will see a shorter snow season, but
more intense individual snowfall events," Mann said.

Moreover, the occasional snow storm likely will occur at odd times, such as October and April. This already is happening.

"When you look at the seasonal cycle now, the biggest snow storms
usually will be in fall and spring because the air is warmer and holds
more moisture," said Gerald Meehl, a senior scientist at the National
Center for Atmospheric Research. "There is a bigger chance for a big
snowfall in late fall or early spring, and you will get more snow out of
a given event."

"You can still get snowstorms in mid-winter, but you can also get
bigger snow amounts in fall and spring storms because the air is a
little bit warmer than in mid-winter," he said. "Winter still comes. We
will still have cold snaps – but fewer of them."

Mann agrees that we are more likely to experience horrible snowstorms
when the temperatures hover in the low 30s or high 20s Fahrenheit,
rather than in the teens or colder. "There is something to that old
saying: 'It's too cold to snow,"' he said.
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