Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Winter weather and climate change

The horrific onslought of winter weather this year in some areas has left many wondering whether climate change is real. Despite the extreme weather events, the earth has in fact been warming up as a whole. There are some other blogs that have a history of covering this point well, including Jeff Master's WunderBlog

Two things that fuel winter storms - temperature and moisture - may matter the most. It seems likely that climate change could cause a change in storm tracks and access to more of the abundant moisture that the storms need. Still, when we look at Chicago's records, winter storms have impacted Chicago for a long time. Here are the top ten storms according to NOAA, not counting today's storm, which is now third largest at about 20 inches:

1. 23.0 inches Jan 26-27, 1967
2. 21.6 inches Jan 1-3, 1999
3. 19.2 inches Mar 25-26, 1930
4. 18.8 inches Jan 13-14, 1979
5. 16.2 inches Mar 7-8, 1931
6. 15.0 inches Dec 17-20, 1929
7. 14.9 inches Jan 30, 1939
8. 14.9 inches Jan 6-7, 1918
9. 14.3 inches Mar 25-26, 1970
10. 14.0 inches Jan 18-20, 1886

Some analysts say that meteorological records do not show an impact from climate change. Perhaps the trends over the last few years will change that assessment.

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