Science, Technology, and Social Media

Bizarre Theory Linking Global Warming To ‘Polar Vortexes’ Resurfaces. Scientists Are Pushing Back

  • The media is once again pushing the narrative that global warming is behind extreme winter cold.
  • However, many scientists disagree with this theory and there’s little evidence to back it up.
  • “Cold waves have lessened over the past 50 years,” said one scientist.

In what’s become an annual affair, the media is pushing articles suggesting bone-chilling temperatures about to hit the U.S. are the product of man-made global warming.

However, many scientists disagree that global warming is having the bizarre effect of making it colder in winter, despite the media’s narrative.

“The bottom line is that folks claiming that cold waves are increasing in the U.S. are ignoring observations and the peer-reviewed literature that state the opposite,” University of Washington climate scientist Cliff Mass told The Daily Caller News Foundation.

As a “polar vortex” bears down on middle America, threatening to break Chicago’s all-time record cold, the Windy City’s iconic newspaper featured one scientist who said, “winters like these could become more common in the future due to climate change.”

“The Arctic is warming twice as fast compared with the rest of the planet, in part because there’s less ice cover,” climate scientist Jennifer Francis told The Chicago Tribune, adding “instead of ice reflecting sunlight away, the water is absorbing this heat.”

Axios echoed that claim Monday evening, reporting that “studies published in the past several years show that polar vortex disruptions may be more likely as the Earth warms and sea ice in the Arctic melts, though this is an active area of research.” The basic idea is that Arctic warming is causing the jet stream to weaken and send cold air south.

“I have argued less sea ice, especially in the Barents-Kara Seas, favors a ridge of high pressure across northwest Eurasia,” Judah Cohen, the top forecaster at AER, told Axios.

Cohen said a chain of events “then connects the effects of newly open ocean with events high in the atmosphere.” Francis and Cohen are regularly featured in news stories alleging a link between melting Arctic sea ice and U.S. cold snaps.

The two scientists published a study last year claiming cold snaps are more likely when the Arctic is abnormally warm, but their work suffered from serious flaws — namely, it did not test any hypothesis nor did it try to establish causality between global warming and cold snaps.

The New York Times also pushed Cohen and Francis’s theory of global warming-induced cold. However, many scientists disagree with that theory and, in fact, there seems to be more evidence it’s just plain wrong.

“Frankly, it is a stretch to make that link,” Kevin Trenberth, a climate scientist at the National Center for Atmospheric Research, told TheDCNF.

“There is always cold air over the Arctic in the polar night and the question is whether it sits there or breaks out,” Trenberth said. “So all this is in realm of weather. Not climate.”

Other studies have tested the link between Arctic sea ice melt and mid-latitude cold snaps, but couldn’t find one. A study by Climate Central found the opposite, that “[c]old waves like this have decreased in intensity and frequency over the last century.”

The U.S. government’s fourth National Climate Assessment, released in 2017, found that while it’s likely mid-latitude temperatures influence the Arctic, “confidence is low regarding whether or by what mechanisms observed arctic warming may have influenced the midlatitude circulation and weather patterns over the continental United States.”

“Cold waves have lessened over the past 50 years,” Mass said. “All one has to do, is to go to official government statistics to see that these claims are not true.”

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