Is this Santa’s revenge for the naughty? There was little nice in terms of U.S. weather for the first full week of 2014.
On January 6, CBS “This Morning” reported low temperatures and wind chills in two-thirds of the United Sates. These low temperatures were so low that Indianapolis made it illegal for anyone, except in case of emergency, to drive. Chicago or Chi-beria (as local media renamed the Windy City) was to have its longest period of below zero temperatures in decades. Monday night, more than 500 Amtrak passengers were stranded west of Chi-beria in what some described as snow tunnels.
Doctor Zhivago anyone?
The blame for the colder than Antarctica weather was a Polar Vortex (the new heard everywhere phrase) that migrated South from over the North Pole. The arctic-cold affected two-thirds of the U.S. Such chiller shifts is one of the reasons that the phrase “global warming’ (even though the globe IS warming) is now more commonly referred to as “climate change.”
What gives? What makes a warmer globe deliver arctic temperatures further South? CBS interviewed TIME magazine senior editor Bryan Walsh, who reported on the phenomenon. CBS broadcast a graphic that visually explains why a warming world would lead to dangerous cold. Walsh calls the weather Ecocentric, the ecological version of eccentric (odd or off center)
Ironically, ice melting at the North Pole means warmer temperatures that slow polar-wind velocity. The slower wind velocity makes the cold wind vortex, normally circulating at the pole, act like an ever slowing top that wobbles and dips so that the polar vortex wobbles away from the pole and into the U.S., or elsewhere.
Arctic temperature increases are also releasing methane according to an article published by Common Dreams. The headline reads “The Climate Disaster Bubbling in the Arctic.” Staff writer Andrea Germanos reported that “new research reveals that the amount of the potent greenhouse gas methane … is over twice the amount previously estimated.” The study reported in the journal Nature Geoscience, looked at the East Siberian Arctic Shelf, a two-million square kilometer area.
The research showed the Siberian-area methane release to be on a par with that released in arctic tundra. which University of Alaska Fairbanks scientist Natalia Shakhova said is considered “one of the major sources of methane in the Northern Hemisphere.”
Methane is 25-30 times more potent a greenhouse gas than the already record-high carbon. The concern is that methane is part of “a positive global feedback loop.” In other words, the more methane released, the more the globe warms thus releasing even more methane.
We’ve already written about summer heat storms. The bottom line is that weather will be come ever more unpredictable, with hotter hots and colder colds and freakish storms. Homeowners and builders need to prepare.
Extra insulation and other energy-efficient building practices become ever more important when it is too hot or too cold—rather than just right.