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Icy hot.

Remember 'Al Gore's igloo" on the lawn of the US Capitol? Climate change denialists had a blast when much of the US and Europe got clobbered by exceptionally cold and snowy winters in 2009-10 and again in 2010-11. Well, it looks like the last laugh is on anti-science crowd once more.

The increase in blizzards may, in fact, be caused by the trend of warmer summers, a team of scientists concluded in a recently published study in the journal Environmental Research Letters. Sounds counterintuitive? Here's how it works: Rising summer temperatures in the Arctic means that the atmosphere can hold more moisture, and that leads to an increase in autumn snowfall in some high-latitude areas. This helps explain why the average snow cover in Eurasia has increased over the past two decades even as average global temperatures have risen. At the same time, the additional snow cover has triggered a kind of feedback loop by changing what's called the Arctic Oscillation, the air pressure pattern that determines winter weather in the Northern Hemisphere. When the oscillation is in a negative phase, high-pressure cells push colder air toward the mid-latitudes, triggering colder temperatures and heavy snowstorms. What's the takeaway from all the meteorology? Perhaps we should forget the term "global warming." Better to just call it "climate change," or perhaps "climate chaos."

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Title Annotation:South America; climate change
Publication:Earth Island Journal
Article Type:Brief article
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Mar 22, 2012
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