Thursday, February 11, 2010

Snow and climate change

Freak snowstorms this year in otherwise mild Washington and Seoul are certainly not indicative of warmer weather. If you're a runner like me or simply delight in plunging wind chills and impending blizzards like my dad, you keep a close eye on the weather. That means you know that when it snows, at least in Toronto, the temperature is typically just below zero. Protests of "it's so cold!" when seeing falling snow are off the mark, because falling snow after a few days at -15 means that it is now warmer.

At any rate, if you're not a runner and really just want to be a flat-earther, you'll point to the snow as evidence of global cooling or some such. The truth is that warm air holds more moisture than cold air. The coldest air we see here tends to be very dry, incapable of producing much snow. You can find science proving anything, such as the study I saw yesterday warning that two or more soft drinks a week increase your chance of pancreatic cancer by 87%, not to be confused with an 87% chance of getting pancreatic cancer. What troubled the CTV anchor, taking a break from Olympic commercial to air some news, was that it made no difference if the drinks were diet.

That tangent aside, this group of scientists argues that more snow can be the result of warming temperatures. If you're the kind of person that isn't easily convinced by people who know what they're talking about and prefer the opinions of those who don't, consider that this was the warmest January of the last 30 years.

For those like me who get easily bored by science, you can read The Straight Dope's explanation of why Nashville gets more snow than the South Pole.

No comments: