Forbes: International warming is inflicting colder February

Essay by Eric Worrall

According to climate scientist Judah Cohen, global warming is causing colder February and Arctic cold snaps.

Thanks to climate change, February is now the cruellest month

Jeff McMahon
Senior Contributor
Jan 29, 2023 00:14 am EST

These unusual frozen Februarys in Texas may not be so unusual anymore.

Early winter has warmed across North America, but late winter is a different story. Scientists have documented a cooling trend for more than 40 February marked by the dangerous and increasingly frequent intrusion of Arctic air deep into the United States.

“December was certainly warmer when you look at the US,” says Judah Cohen, a climatologist at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, in a recent video. But “in February, since 1979 — so for quite a few years now — we’re actually seeing a very pronounced cooling trend in the central US.”

“We have tended to have more severe winter weather when the polar vortex is weak and milder rainy weather when the polar vortex is strong, and we have seen a decrease in the strong state of the polar vortex and an increase in the weak state of the polar vortex,” Cohen said in an interview with Peter Sinclair, a videographer for Yale Climate Connections who posts succinct snippets of interviews on his excellent Greenmanbucket YouTube channel.

Read more:

The video interview;

The abstract of the paper;

Linking Arctic variability and change to extreme winter weather in the United States


September 1, 2021
Volume 373, Issue 6559
pp. 1116-1121

Cold weather disruptions

Despite the rapid warming that is the main feature of global climate change, particularly in the Arctic, where temperatures are rising much faster than anywhere else in the world, the United States and other regions of the Northern Hemisphere have had a conspicuous and increasingly frequent number of episodes of extreme cold winter weather for the past four decades. Cohen et al. combined observations and models to show that Arctic change is likely an important cause of a chain of processes involving what is known as stratospheric polar vortex disturbance, which ultimately leads to periods of extreme cold in the north mid-latitudes (see Coumou’s perspective) . —HJS


The Arctic is warming twice as fast as the global average and severe winter weather is reported to be increasing in many densely populated mid-latitude regions, but there is no consensus on whether there is a physical link between the two phenomena. We use observational analysis to show that a lesser-known stratospheric polar vortex (SPV) disturbance involving wave reflection and stretching of the SPV is associated with extreme cold across parts of Asia and North America, including the recent cold spell in Texas in February 2021 , and has increased in the satellite age. We then use numerical modeling experiments, enforced by trends in autumn snowpack and Arctic sea ice, to establish a physical link between Arctic changes and SPV stretching and associated surface impacts.

Read more:

Colder winters are obviously a sign of global warming. Let’s hope governments get global warming under control before we all freeze to death.

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