Written by Stephanie Pappas, LiveScience Senior Writer Thursday, 03 February 2011 20:22
No single weather event can be directly attributed to climate change. But as the globe warms up, Americans can expect more storms like the one this week, scientists say.
That’s not because the Feb. 1 storm can be linked to rising atmospheric carbon dioxide levels or increasing global temperature—again, such a connection is impossible to make – but, according to climatologists, an increased propensity for winter storms is exactly what you’d expect in a warming world.
“There’s no inconsistency at all,” Michael Mann, the director of the Penn State Earth System Science Center, told LiveScience. “If anything, this is what the models project: that we see more of these very large snowfalls.”
Climate versus weather
Questions about climate often pop up when the weather is extreme. Droughts and heat waves trigger comments on the scourge of carbon dioxide. During winter storms like the one that lashed much of the east and midwest, skeptics question why they have to dig out their car from snowdrifts in a supposedly warming world.