Is the Cold Snap proof that climate change is a myth?

cold snap

People pose for photographs in front of a frozen water fountain at Bryant Park, Thursday, Dec. 28, 2017, in New York. A large swath of northern New York is encased in ice and snow after days of lake-effect storms followed by an arctic cold front sending temperatures well below zero. PHOTOGRAPH BY FRANK FRANKLIN II, AP

With the cold snap in the US at the moment and Trump tweeting out his desire for more Global Warming it is understandable that some who deny the reality of it all will latch on to it as evidence that it is all a myth.

Er … well yes, people who do actually understand what is going on perhaps require medical aid to help remove their jaws from their laps after reading Mr T’s tweet …

It is perhaps inevitable that some people also make comments such as this …

The weather. Winters are still cold and still breaking record lows. That doesn’t happen if the globe is only getting warmer.

OK, so let’s dig into this and take is slowly step by step.

Climate and Weather are not the same thing

Within his remake of Cosmos, Neil deGrasse Tyson explained the difference between weather and climate …

To put all that in very simply terms – Weather is what happens on a very specific place on a very specific time frame, and that can vary a lot. Climate is the longer term trend.

Record Cold Weather

At the moment the US is indeed experiencing a record breaking cold snap. What is perhaps not appreciated is that while the US is experiencing this cold snap, the rest of the planet is experiencing temperatures that are above average …

The above map shows you the daily temperature anomaly for 31st Dec. The bar at the bottom illustrates that it uses colours to graphically tell you what is above and what is below the normal

  • An anomaly of zero means that it is an exact match to the baseline (the 21 year period of 1979 to 2000)
  • Blues … and it is below that
  • Orange reds and it is above that

To translate … the US and Greenland are colder than normal, while the rest of the entire planet, and especially Siberia, is far warmer than normal.

The map is updated on a daily basis, so you can easily check it out yourself as follows:

  • Go to this website –
  • Click the second option in that list “Today’s Weather Maps”
  • Then on that page, click the 3rd option “2m Temperature Anomaly”

If you then scroll down you will then see the latest version of the above map. You can also try out some of the other options.

Where exactly did the above come from?

This website is produced by the Climate Change Institute at the University of Maine. The weather maps shown here are generated from the NCEP Global Forecast System (GFS) model. GFS is the primary operational model framework underlying U.S. NOAA/NWS weather forecasting. The model is run four times daily on a global T1534 gaussian grid (~13 km) to produce 16-day forecasts.

Bottom Line

While there is a cold snap in the US, within the larger context of the entire global, the overall global climate is way above the normal baseline – Global Warming is very real.

But why are we having a cold snap?

I’ll do a follow up positing to cover that tomorrow.

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