In the last decade or so, we’ve experienced giant tornados, damaging wildfires, flood-inducing rainstorms, fatal heat waves, and droughts destroying crops and livestock like never before.
At the same time the polar jet stream, a westerly wind generated by solar radiation and the corollas effect (a phenomenon that creates our weather), has been behaving in unprecedented ways. Scientists believe this is not a coincidence, rather it is related.
Normally, the jet stream travels either in a straight line or undulates in waves called Rossby waves. Rossby waves bring warm air northward and cold air southward. This can create a temporary heat wave or a rainstorm.
The jet stream is powered by the temperature differential between the cold arctic air and the warmer air in the lower latitudes. As global warming continues to warm the arctic air, the jet stream is losing its power. The Rossby waves have become larger, expanding much further north and south than before.
They are bringing temperatures and weather that is unusual for our local climate. Records show that Southern U.S. states now get snow more regularly than in the past.
Once Rossby waves, especially weakened ones, reach a certain size they can stall in place, permitting a heat wave or a rain weather system to last days or weeks longer than the norm.
With no end in sight to global warming or even a slowing of it, we are likely to be in for even more extreme weather that increases in intensity and stays put for longer.
A growing number of scientists are predicting that perhaps as soon as 2050 the climate in the southern latitudes may be unlivable and the Arctic could be our new temperate zone.
Get ready to move north, and bring your umbrella, sunscreen and snow boots.