Extreme Weather

Are we experiencing colder weather?

October 31, 2023

Yes. Even though it may seem counterintuitive, overall warming global temperatures are also creating extremely cold weather patterns.

Warm arctic conditions cause wavier jet streams, and these wind bands can in turn meander outside of their normal zones, bringing colder winters in temperate regions. Arctic warming can also disrupt the polar vortex, a very-high altitude swirl of cold air above the North Pole, increasing the likelihood of extreme winter weather.

Key Takeaways

  1. 1.

    Arctic warming can paradoxically cause colder weather through a chain of events.

  2. 2.

    A combination of reduced Arctic sea ice, La NiƱa conditions and a sudden stratospheric warming in January 2021 were factors in the February 2021 extreme cold wave that caused huge societal disruptions in Texas and the southern Great Plains.

Additional Resource

SciLine: Cold snaps and climate change