If Global Warming Is Real, Why Is It Still Snowing?

(Image credit: Alfi007 | sxc.hu)

If it’s supposed to be getting warmer, then why am I bundled up in a wool coat? How could record chills occur in the Northeast? Why would major snowstorms still strike?

Some media outlets love to point out such oddities. It makes for great headlines.

But the fact that our globe is warming doesn’t mean that the entire population of Earth will be sporting tank tops year-round. In fact it could be snowing precisely because of global warming . Say what?

Here’s how it works: The scientific consensus is that the average temperature of the Earth has risen about 1 degree Fahrenheit over the past 100 years. As this warming trend continues , weather becomes more intense and many places will actually experience heavier precipitation, in the form of rain or snow (oddly, scientists don't even know how much of either falls on the planet each year).

When the oceans heat up, evaporation increases and more water vapor ends up in the air. When this wet mass of air moves from over the oceans to land, heavier storms form . This disruption of normal weather patterns also means that  while some parts of the world will experience flooding or more intense snowstorms, others may get robbed of their share of rain and snow and face droughts. In the real extreme forecasts, some forests could become deserts.

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Sara Goudarzi
Sara Goudarzi is a Brooklyn writer and poet and covers all that piques her curiosity, from cosmology to climate change to the intersection of art and science. Sara holds an M.A. from New York University, Arthur L. Carter Journalism Institute, and an M.S. from Rutgers University. She teaches writing at NYU and is at work on a first novel in which literature is garnished with science.