Monday, February 16, 2015

Buried in Boston? Blame it on climate change -- maybe

[USA Today] Boston is used to snow, but not like this — nearly 6 feet in two weeks, including the biggest two snowstorms since records began after the Civil War.
And two more storms carrying a foot of snow each are forecast in the next week.
Massachusetts has already removed enough snow to fill the Patriots' Gillette Stadium 90 times, and Gov. Charlie Baker called the situation "pretty much unprecedented."
What's going on? Although no individual storm can be directly linked to climate change, Boston's snowy winter could point to weather patterns affected by global warming.
"The environment in which all storms form is now different than it was just 30 or 40 years ago because of global warming," said Kevin Trenberth, a senior scientist at the National Center for Atmospheric Research in Boulder, Colo.
Higher temperatures warm the oceans and allow the atmosphere to hold a greater amount of water vapor, said Brad Johnson, a meteorologist with the University of Georgia. "Both of these factors, among others, contribute to stronger storms in general," he said.
Johnson also said scientists are not able to attribute just a single storm or series of storms directly to climate change.
In the future, due to climate change, snowfalls will increase because the atmosphere can hold 4% more moisture for every 1-degree increase in temperature, Trenberth said. As long as temperatures stay just below freezing, the result is more snow — rather than rain, he said.
Several of the Northeast's biggest snowstorms on record hit in the past 15 years — and two of Boston's 10 largest snowstorms on record occurred in the past two weeks, according to the National Weather Service. Read More