Lake Michigan

Is The Polar Vortex Linked To Climate Change?

This week’s Polar Vortex has been seen and heard of before, but some scientists feel it is happening more than in the past, and this may be a result of Climate Change and Global Warming. This phenomenon caught everyone’s attention, with the wind chill making temperatures feel like 60 or 70 below zero in many places in the USA. What is behind this extreme weather?

The CNBN video above “How the polar vortex could be linked to climate change” graphically explains what is causing this Deep Freeze. In the video, CBS News is joined by contributing meteorologist Jeff Berardelli who explains the science.

What makes scientists think The Polar Vortex is linked to global warming?

Much of the globe is indeed experiencing record high temperatures, causing droughts and wildfires in countries like Australia right now. So what does that have to do with the polar vortex and dangerous low temperatures in the Midwestern USA?

The temperatures in the Arctic are rising at a much faster rate – two to three times faster – than elsewhere around the earth. The extremely cold air that is usually present in the Arctic region’s polar vortex is giving way to warmer-than-usual Arctic air, and the warm air is pushing the jet stream off of its typical path. The disruption of the jet stream is caused by this warm air in the Arctic, breaking the regular pattern apart, pushing the polar vortex south from its normal position directly over the Arctic, to in this case, above the Midwest. It then follows the new path of the jet stream and sweeps it across the USA toward the Mid-Atlantic States.

So although we usually think of Climate Change as Global Warming, it really is associated with “Extremes of Weather” which in this case means extreme cold. If you have never experienced this type of cold, Berardelli and other meteorologist have warned that it is actually life threatening and even five minutes of exposure to these punishing winds can lead to frostbite. These wind chills are actually colder than the weather in Antarctica.

Scientists do not agree on what is causing Climate Change, but the majority do agree that there is indeed Climate Change going on right now.

Berardelli stated that scientists are continuing to do more modelling and scientific studies to study this phenomenon of Polar Vortex disruption and determine if it is directly connected to Climate Change using scientific methods.