Natural Causes: German Meteorologist Says North America Is Geographically Predestinated For Polar Vortices

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The online German daily Die Welt here  has an interview with ARD public television chief meteorologist Karsten Schwanke on why it’s so cold in North America. He attributes the severe cold to an “unusually stable pattern by the Jet Stream“.

As I read the interview I waited for the “is global warming the cause?” question. It didn’t come until the very end. Overall the interview was quite factual throughout, much to my relief.

Schwanke tells Die Welt that the cold air mass was brought down to the states by a “polar vortex” and that “North America is geographically predestinated for cold air to come south very quickly because there are no mountain ranges to block the way.”

So we see from Schwanke’s explanation that such a phenomenon is not unknown and is natural; it happened in the past. Time magazine for example blamed global cooling for the development of “circumpolar vortices” back in 1974: Read here. And Princeton physicist William Happer says: “Polar vortices have been around forever. They have almost nothing to do with more CO2 in the atmosphere.Read here.

Schwanke tells Die Welt that currently there is a very clear pattern in the northern hemisphere, one that is made up of four main blocks of weather: “There are two cold regions, namely North America and Central Siberia, and two warm regions: Europe and Eastern Siberia.” Schwanke describes the current Jet Stream as having very few dips and rises, thus causing large regions to remain stuck in a certain weather pattern for weeks.

Forecasts beyond 8 days are “rather uncertain”

On how long the cold pattern will continue keeping North America in its grip, Schwanke says this is very difficult to say: “There are various weather models that are still currently contradicting each other. Forecasts more than eight days into the future are in any case rather uncertain.”

On how the cold weather in North America impacts the weather in Europe, Schwanke says:

Very cold air masses that flow from North America into the Atlantic end up mixing with warmer air from the south. This is how gigantic low pressure systems are formed over the Atlantic and produce south west currents – this is why it’s so warm where we are.”

There we have it: mid and north Atlantic storms are triggered by cold air masses.

On the question as to when winter will finally arrive in Germany, Schwanke thinks there may be a fundamental change in the works over the next two weeks, but the models are still too uncertain on this.

When asked if man can have an impact on the weather, Schwanke replies that “today there is not really any serious scientific evidence to show that really works – getting clouds to rain for example. The energy movements in the atmosphere are so great that a few human measures would be smaller than pin pricks.”

At the very end: He is asked if there a connection between extreme weather and climate change? Here Schwanke replies saying that cold snaps “will not change global warming, which we are experiencing: Eastern Siberia is warmer than it has been in a long time. Europe will have one of the warmest winters in a long time.

Unfortunately Schwanke obviously has not looked at the global temperatures for the last 15 years. NO WARMING!

He then tells Die Welt there were some papers out that showing that Arctic sea ice extent could have an impact on the Jet Stream waves. But he didn’t come across as being too convinced. Why should he be? The great US cold snaps of the 1960s and 1970s were delivered by polar vortices at a time when Arctic sea ice extent was high.

Also there are papers showing a strong correlation between solar activity and European winters.

 

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10 responses to “Natural Causes: German Meteorologist Says North America Is Geographically Predestinated For Polar Vortices”

  1. DirkH

    I have a simple explanation for this warm Winter and the last, where relatively little snow fell. You see, in the fall of 2012 I bought new winter tyres. Obviously, snow became rare instantly. What can I say. The best winter tyres I ever had – they remove snow before it falls!

  2. Ric Werme

    I bought snow tires (Nokian Haakepelittas) last year for my car and this year for my wife’s car.

    In December we had 12 measurable snow events – literally snow every few days.

    Perhaps the tires think they’re still in Europe and are tyres.

    1. DirkH

      Ah, you should have bought Goodyear! Finnish tires of course don’t stop snow from falling – Fins are required to drive with spikes in winter!

  3. Curious George

    “North America is geographically predestinated for cold air to come south very quickly because there are no mountain ranges to block the way.”

    Polar vortex in winter, tornadoes in summer – same predestination?

    1. ArndB

      @“North America is geographically predestinated for cold air to come south very quickly ….”

      Sea surface temperatures in Eastern North Pacific (06. Jan. 14) is well above average (http://www.2007seatraining.de/Archiv/2014/b/12b_6.jpg), which is one reason for current cold air mass pushed down to the states by a “polar vortex”

  4. Lance

    I worked in the High Arctic at a weather station(Eureka) in 79-80, and we would just laugh at southern Canada, and USA…we would ‘warm’ up to say -20 C from the -40’s or colder, and all that cold air we had, would slump down south, and then, from the south, we would hear nothing but wailing and gnashing of teeth…of course this was before it was called GW….(in fact, it was still know as GC)…and much before it became “political”. Now…I just shake my head…wow new word “polar vortex”,..its like the media found a new buz word…

  5. John F. Hultquist

    “North America is geographically predestinated for cold air to come south very quickly because there are no mountain ranges to block the way.”

    I’ve been trying to recall the names of the great mountain ranges that block Arctic air from Siberia. Oh well.

    So, I live in Washington State and have a block heater in the 4 wheel drive Subaru. We did have a couple of cold evenings a month ago and a little snow 2 months ago. I do what I can to keep the east coast on the receiving end of cold air (also known as the more scary sounding Polar Vortex). Such air has been called a “polar outbreak” since the English colonists threw the Spanish out of Florida.

  6. Casper

    “Schwanke tells Die Welt that the cold air mass was brought down to the states by a “polar vortex” and that “North America is geographically predestinated for cold air to come south very quickly because there are no mountain ranges to block the way.”

    I suppose Mr Schwanke hasn’t heard about standing waves:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Standing_waves

  7. mwhite

    The British media has discovered a new phrase this week “The Polar Vortex”. It seems to have been mentioned in every North American sub-zero story.

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