The severe winter storms of 2013-2014 in North America and the UK, and increased rainfall in Indonesia and the western Pacific Ocean are both consistent with global warming, according to a joint report issued by the UK Meterological Office and the UK Office of Ecology and Hydrology. The report suggested that both events were the result of changes to the jet stream (fast flowing currents of air high in the Earth’s atmosphere) over North America and the Pacific. Higher than normal ocean temperatures in the Pacific resulted in increased rainfall there and increased the flow of the Pacific jet stream, deflecting it northward. This in turn lead to the creation of a much stronger North Atlantic jet stream that brought polar air down to Canada and the United States and storms to the UK.
Ultimately, all weather on this planet is related and the causes of these increasingly intense weather phenomenon are often found half a world away. As can be seen by the intensity of this year’s winter weather in North America, global warming is too complex to be described by generalizations such as “winters should be warmer and summers should be hotter”. Deniers of climate change say that the Earth’s climate has been constantly changing for billions of years, however what they fail to realize is that the changes over the past 100 years have in the past taken millions of years to play out. Sadly, it is likely we will have to deal with more frequent and extreme weather phenomenon before we, as a global community, acknowledge our role in their creation.