Climate Change Can be Freezing too. Polar Vortex Hits Midwestern US

The recent images from the US Midwest show the dramatic drop in temperatures making some areas colder than Antarctica. Blame it on Climate Change

Let that seep in for a minute as the reports made me reminisce the popular yet terrifying images from a Hollywood blockbuster from way back in 2004- The Day after Tomorrow.

So at least the moviemakers in their own way have thought about the sudden climate change and dramatic drop in the temperatures. While entire countries, like the one where the film is shot on, continues to deny it.

Reports from the US say that record-breaking cold with temperatures plummeting to -35 degrees Celsius in areas of Dakota. At that temperature, vodka freezes solid. Chicago, which is home to 2.7 million people, hit -28°C on Wednesday as well.

The coldest air is expected to push through the region till this weekend, and it is likely to break records across the region. It’s canceling school, it’s disrupting mail service, and has already been blamed for several deaths. And now it’s reached the East Coast too, though less dramatically. The temperature in New York City hovered near zero Thursday morning.

But why is this cold blast happening? Blame the “polar vortex.” That’s the mass of frigid air that usually circulates in the Arctic and is dipping southward into the continental US this week. But due to the warming of polar regions (Artic and Antarctic) the polar vortex weakens and the cold air jet stream wobble southward, bringing the cold polar air down with it.

Jonathan Patz, Professor and Director, Global Health Institute said: “The Midwest is colder than Antarctica thanks to the polar vortex; Extreme cold increasingly rare for Wisconsin, but polar vortex could be more common in a warmer climate”.

A study released in 2018, “Warm Arctic episodes linked with increased frequency of extreme winter weather in the United States”  says that there is a “robust relationship between Arctic temperatures and severe winter weather in the United States. When the Arctic is warm both cold temperatures and heavy snowfall are more frequent compared to when the Arctic is cold.”

There’s some evidence that the jet stream, a meandering air current that flows over North America and Europe, is slowing and becoming wavier as the planet warms.

Scientists have been quick to point out climate change’s role in allowing Arctic air to flow south. Dr. Jacquelyn Gill who is an ecologist, said, “There’s growing evidence that a warming Arctic drives the polar vortex. The jet stream is powered in part by the difference between Arctic and mid-latitude temperatures.”

‏While US administration has been denying Global Warming as a phenomenon, a localized, albeit large, cold snap isn’t representative of the rest of the planet. If we look at the land down under, Australians are currently sweltering in searing record heat of more than 46°C and they are well aware of Climate change. The past four years have been the hottest on record for the globe. So in the north and South hemispheres temperatures and seasons are beginning to change and scientists are trying, like they have been for decades, highlight that Climate Change is happening before our eyes.

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Sneha Verma

Sneha Verma

Sneha has worked with News agencies such as DD, PTI and ANI and after covering politics, in search for fresh air, she later joined Iamrenew team. She has done her graduation in Journalism & Masscom. from IP university and PGD in HR from TISS.

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