How global warming can (supposedly) cause Europe’s harsh winter weather

Amazingly, there is absolutely no mention of the Sun in this article. Certainly no mention of a blank Sun.

Climate deniers are using a spell of unusually cold weather in Europe to incorrectly argue that CO2 emissions are not warming the planet.

As Germans shiver through double-digit negative temperatures and more than 80 centimeters (almost 3 ft) of snow in parts of the country, climate science deniers have taken to social media to argue that global warming is a hoax.

Their claim — which has been repeatedly debunked by climate scientists — is that extremely cold weather shows that carbon dioxide emissions are not warming the Earth.

In fact, the effects of global warming may even have favored the extremely cold temperature. (There it is! Global warming ‘favors’ extreme cold. Talk about a faith-based religion!)

As early as December, experts had an inkling about winter weather conditions this year. The polar vortex low-pressure area in the far north became unstable, allowing Arctic air masses to move to Europe. The result: snow, freezing rain and above all, plummeting temperatures in Germany. The sub-zero conditions could hold for the next two weeks.

They restock the supermarket shelves, but when the low-pressure area named “Tristan” moves across the country, you don’t want to be driving behind a truck. In snow and slush, the rigs soon reach their limits. Many people spent the night in their cars in the freezing cold, stranded on highway A2 near Bielefeld. Traffic was backed up for 37 kilometers (23 miles).

“Tristan” has dumped large amounts of snow on regions that are not very familiar with these types of weather conditions, including up to 30 centimeters (12 inches) of new snow in the lowlands of the eastern German state of Saxony. It’s a busy time for snow plows, as here in the city of Leipzig (photo).

Windmills in Kinderdijk, Netherlands, at a standstill

Windmills in Kinderdijk, near Rotterdam, have not been working for some time, but now, public life in the Netherlands is also partly grinding to a halt. Elementary schools were closed in many towns at the beginning of the week, only a few trains are running, and police have urged people not to use their cars. Meteorologists agree that, at least for a while, the cold has come to stay.

As a rule, the weather in Belgium comes in from the west, but “Tristan” snuck in from the east, bringing snow and cold to the Belgian capital, Brussels. The situation is not as chaotic as expected, but the German meteorologist Jörg Kachelmann’s assessment applies to Belgium, too: “A block of cold air has settled with a big butt and is barely budging.”

The onset of winter does not come as a surprise to people in Poland. In Warsaw, people are quite familiar with frigid low-pressure systems from the east. In parts of the country, the snow has turned to rain, making the streets as slippery as glass. The lowest temperatures are currently being recorded in Lower Silesia and Opole, where it can be so cold that even salt won’t de-ice the roads.

The clash of arctic and warmer air masses brought freezing rain and snow to the Czech Republic, too. With temperatures as low as minus 20 degrees Celsius, the capital, Prague, remains covered in a blanket of snow. Great weather for winter sports — but the Czech ski resorts are closed due to the coronavirus restrictions.

Sahara sand colors the Alps

Unlike in the Czech Republic, the lifts are busy in many Swiss winter sports resorts. The skiers must wear face masks. While the country wasn’t hit by snow masses like in Germany, winter sports fans marveled at snow colored by Sahara sands blown in from Africa by strong winds.

Why is it so cold?

The past week’s sub-zero temperatures and heavy snowfalls are more than just a cold winter. They are made more likely by the collapse of the polar vortex — a huge ring of cold winds raging in the Earth’s stratosphere — at the North Pole.

The polar vortex is closely connected to the jet stream, a band of strong winds about 10 kilometers above the ground. At the polar front, this flows between warm air from the tropics and subtropics, and cold polar air. The pressure extremes that form in this transitional area at lower layers are sometimes referred to in weather reports as the Icelandic low or the Azores high.

The jet stream usually determines the winter weather in Europe: if it is strong and flows from west to east, it brings mild, windy and rainy weather from the Atlantic, and holds the cold air from the Arctic.

But if the jet stream is weak and wavy, the polar vortex also weakens, and sometimes breaks down completely. The cold snap across Europe is the result of a weak jet stream — more precisely a dip — that has caused a strong and long-lasting collapse of the polar vortex.

How can climate change make the weather colder?

Through the burning of fossil fuels, people have heated the planet by more than 1 degrees Celsius (1.8 F) since the Industrial Revolution. The decade from 2010 to 2019 was the hottest on record. (Yeah, but IPCC scientists are required to not look at any records before 1880.) Climate change, however, doesn’t only lead to higher temperatures, but more extreme weather.

This is where the disproportionate warming of the Arctic comes into play, said Stefan Rahmstorf, head of the Earth System Analysis research department at the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK). Temperatures in the Arctic have risen more than twice as fast as the global average over the past 40 years. “These changes are affecting the weather in Europe.”

Arctic warming is particularly strong in winter, said Dörthe Handorf, who researches the physics of the atmosphere at the Alfred Wegener Institute of the Helmholtz Centre for Polar and Marine Research (AWI). “As many studies show, this weakens the jet stream.”

The wind stream begins to fray, said Handorf, which could lead to more dips that affect temperatures in Europe.

Will climate change make European winters colder?

Climate change won’t necessarily make European winters colder because the outbreaks of cold air from the polar vortex are sometimes milder than the current cold snap. The Arctic is also not the only part of the world where air currents are changing because of rising temperatures.

Strong warming over the subtropics also affects the jet stream, said Handorf. While the Arctic warming tends to direct the jet stream southwards and cause cold spells in Europe, the subtropical warming generally sends the band northwards. If this is the case, she said, the winter weather in Europe will be milder. Climate models do not yet know which warming trend will dominate in the future, she added.

Warmer Arctic air can lower temperatures far to the south

Why global warming can lead to snow

Snow forms when warm, moist air meets very cold air. Over the flatlands in western Europe, the air is rarely cold enough for the volume of snowfall that has blanketed the region this winter.

But on this occasion, an area of high-pressure air called Gisela brought cold Arctic winds to the center of Germany, where it collided with two low-pressure areas called Tristan and Reinhard. As they were carrying warm sea air, the moisture was turned into snow.

Because warmer air holds more moisture, rising temperatures mean air masses will transport more water. This moisture can then become snow wherever it gets cold enough — typically at higher altitudes.

The massive snowfalls in the Alps in the winter of 2019 were also triggered by unusually moist and warm air masses. At that time, said Peter Hoffmann, meteorologist at PIK, the oceans were still quite warm in winter due to the long, hot summer — and so a lot of water evaporated.

The air currents then took it to the Alps, where an enormous amount of wet snow fell at high altitudes, causing chaos on the roads and increasing the risk of avalanches.

Snow chaos in the Alps

Soldiers from the German army had to clear roofs after heavy snowfall hit Bischofswiesen, in southern Germany, in 2019

Changes in local weather can be different to changes in the global climate. This can cause confusion.

While average temperatures have warmed to record-breaking levels — making regional heatwaves and wildfires more intense — climate change does not make temperatures everywhere rise. In the past 20 years, for example, winters in many areas of temperate latitudes have not been much warmer than the long-term average, said Handorf.

Complex weather systems such as the polar vortex, for instance, could be cooling parts of Europe even as the Arctic warms. And though February may be particularly cold this year, January — compared to the long-term average — might have been too warm.

“Although we don’t always see warming regionally or locally, we have no signs that global warming is weakening,” said Handorf. “On the contrary.”

The changing jet stream also affects summer temperatures, she added. “There are studies that show we also have a more meandering jet stream in summer. And these meanders, these bulges, tend to remain more stationary.” In other words, just like a cold spell in winter, the heat can last for an unusually long time in summer.

If hot Saharan air then reaches Europe through the jet stream, as it did in June 2019, for example, it can cause a long heat wave. During such scorching weeks and months, it seems obvious that the climate crisis is upon us — but the same it true when it snows.

This article was adapted from German by Ajit Niranjan

Thanks to Earl for this link


26 thoughts on “How global warming can (supposedly) cause Europe’s harsh winter weather”

  1. Simplistic reasoning maybe , if the total heat content of the earth is going up as Global Warming predicts then the temperature of every square mile on earth if averaged out would show this . So if we look at all the very cold square miles in the Southern Hemisphere we would expect to see at the same time a commensurate increase in the square mile temperature in the Southern Hemisphere ie 35-40 oC drop in the north at least therefore a 35-40 oC rise in the south or more to maintain equilibrium . The point being ,where is the extra heat that would compensate for the huge cooling of the north ?

  2. This is an agenda as this has been happening the entire history of our cold is now global warming as well? I think differently I see this as a cycle cycle cycle and regardless of what we do these cycle will keep going including the glacer cycle of the ice age.they want us to be fooled but in the end there the ones that will be fools.

  3. Yes. They had a wavy jet-stream pattern just like in the above diagram in a newspaper article back in the 1970’s. Only that time it was supposed to be proof of global cooling. Remember, THE SCIENCE IS SETTLED!

  4. Just search for websites showing current sunspot photos. It is a blank plate void of pounding sunspots. Right there is the main culprit of or climate shifts and we are ramping up for a big one. A long cooling period. These things result in delayed triggers. Sort of like when our shortest days are not our coldest and our longest days not the hottest. The trigger is pulled but the effect is delayed a month or two. This calming sun trigger has been pulled but there is a delay in it’s effect. But fear not….it’s coming. We are just barely beginning to see the effect.

    • Good thing they changed it from global warming to climate change. They got it covered no matter what the weather does!

  5. One can’t say that January 2020 was too hot and February too cold 2020, as it is linked to human conditions how the weather should be according to the math used. The use of ‘too’ is a human qualification. A bit more neutral are the terms ‘warmer’ and ‘ colder’.

  6. down sth were having the avg day temp highs up to 2c cooler and nights 1 to2c lower as well
    media avoids noticing it of course.
    suns been blank 8 days? now and the huuuge quakes in loyalty islands are ongoing still
    polar oddities are def due to the low sun as we also had weird wind patterns form antarctic early last yr as well, they kept pushing our rains upwards;-( so it was a cold and DRY winter for us

  7. A little self defeating such warming nonsense is it not. The warm creates all the snow it’s melting away to nothing promising more snow to a future that’s going to be without it.
    Yeah right warmists, keep taking your meds lunatics!

    • And it is much harder for the Thames to freeze now since it has been channelled and flows faster than it did in the times of the frost fairs.

  8. A few points:
    1. There is nothing new about Saharan sand reaching the Alps. I was working in Wengen, Switzerland in the winter of 1989/90 and personally witnessed a similar deposition of sand (in fact I skied on it). Yes, it was a mild winter, but no-one back then said it was a new phenomenon due to global warming. They just saw it as something which happened now and again.
    2. Piers Corbyn has been talking about wavy jet streams for years and he thinks the whole ‘global warming’ shebang is unadulterated claptrap. So this may very well be yet another bit of the ‘warmists’ stealing the arguments of ‘deniers’ when it suits them. They said oceanic modulations were irrelevant until Joe d’Aleo blew them out of the water, then they all demanded grant money to study it….
    3. If these cold snaps are due to ‘global warming’, why on earth was there a far more impressive event in Europe in January 1985 – temperatures were regularly down at -30C in Alpine resorts for several weeks and the depth hoar which formed was almost unprecedented.

  9. As Tony Heller at pointed out, the polar vortex diagram they used for this article was used in the 1970s when they were trying to blame CO2 for the oncoming ice age. Yes, CO2, the miracle molecule, able to leap tall buildings with a single bound, and ALWAYS works at both ends of whatever spectrum you wish to put it at. Can cause ice ages and shrink the oceans, as well as cause the planet to burn and the oceans drown us.

    And if you saw that other piece of science lately, they determined that Venus used to have oceans and was like Earth 2 billion years ago, ALL from computer simulation I would assume.

  10. Amazingly, there is also no mention of how their polar vortex is formed by Coriolis Effects from a rotating oblong earth.
    Notice that the direction of their rotating polar vortex is counter clockwise, just like CCW rotating hurricanes in the northern hemisphere from Coriolis Effects.

    Flushing toilet water swirl directions from Coriolis Effects in various hemispheres is all fake.
    The Foucault pendulum swinging in Paris, et al, is not fake.

  11. Just like what we are all seeing with the censoring of opposing viewpoints on social media and MSM, the same has been happening in ‘science’ for decades if not longer. Do yourself a favor and read about how we arrived at Pasteur’s disease theory being the driver of modern medicine. It was just another case of one opposing viewpoint, cell theory, being shot down without any real scientific proof. We live under a pretense that science is ‘noble’, when it is just as infiltrated with corruption, greed, power, as anything else!

    • That came up recently with regard to how Britain had a completely different public health system to Europe until we were forced to hand public health over to vets by the EU. Pasteur moved to England and found he was welcomed with open arms by physicians studying diseases and his idea of ‘germs’ was embraced. So Britain had health as its first public government service under the control of the medical fraternity.

      Europe somehow ended up with vets controlling public health and so with the EU food verification and inspection is down to vets. You would be right to think this is an odd scenario.

  12. Warming makes cold by the magical process of government grants.

    If you want the money you must prove why global cooling is being caused by global warming and thus the endless argument and circuitous thinking age has dawned.

    There will be no end to these “proofs”.

  13. We had the coolest summer anyone alive can remember here in western AR. Temperature did not exceed 100deg F once.
    Following the charting of bitter colds here and aligning them up with the N. Atlantic ocean oscillation cycles, one finds a good match. However, the bitter cold has returned this winter 30 years ahead of schedule, cutting the cycle in half; this is an advancing cycle, and the precession is advancing rather quickly. Kind of frightening to say the least!

    Global warming me @$$ 🙂


  14. So, in 2021, warm Arctic air flow cause global cold conditions. Then, what caused similar global cold conditions in previous winters?

  15. the attacks against science have been going on much longer – pretty much for at least 2000 years… to wit: Hypatia… an classic example where history is cancelled, and “believers” are doing the same thing today, perhaps without as much flaying and burning (physically), just mentally…

  16. Like you, Robert, I cannot help but notice that this is not at all presented as scientific fact. The phrase “the effects of global warming may even have favored the extremely cold temperature.” The words “may even have” and “favored” both show an unwillingness to claim that what is presented in the article is true. It’s a theory. And “may” also admits “may not” which means they are acknowledging that the cold weather may have one or more other causes, which they would rather not mention, even in theory. But all who doubt climate charge are clearly bad; that does seem to be the point of the article, which is then unwilling to claim that the theory it proposes is certain. Very interesting. Yes, it is unfortunate that they cannot break away from climate change as the single cause of all weather problems. The world is much more complex than they want it to be: volcanic activity, solar activity, underwater vents . . . none of them even get an honorable mention. But they know about all of them.

Comments are closed.