Global warming is always a hot topic for debate. whether you take Al Gore’s side or hold a position that is the… wait for it… polar opposite, one thing is certain: Europe is deathly cold right now. The continent across the pond has recently been impacted by a serious cold front that has caused nearly 300 deaths thus far. A portion of Italy has been masked with 36 inches of the powdery stuff. The country of my ancestors, Poland, has experienced 35 degrees below with 11 steady days of temperatures well below average. The death toll in Poland has reached 53 casualties and continues to rise. But how could global warming have anything to do with frigid temperatures across Europe? The supposed cause of the crummy weather: melting polar ice caps.
So that explains where the global warming aspect comes into play. Not to be Captain Obvious, but in order for something to melt (including polar ice caps) there needs to be warmth. That warmth hit hard this past July. According to The U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), July 2011 was the fourth warmest July on record. As a result, the sea-ice levels in the Arctic were at serious low the very same month. The NOAA reported that they were the lowest in 30 years.
The Earth truly works in fascinating ways. Because of the lack of ice in the ocean, less heat is reflected back into the atmosphere. The heat that is not being allowed to travel back from where it once came, is trapped in the ocean. The heat off of the ocean rises, causing an unstable atmosphere with changes in air-pressure patterns. This is what ultimately caused the freezing Europe is currently going through.
You see, since air-pressure patterns were messed with. One pattern in particular, known as the Arctic Oscillation, really screwed things up. About a month and a half ago, the pattern drastically changed, “allowing the jet stream to plunge into Siberia and push cold and snowy weather over much of Europe” (CNN).
All I can say is that I hope the residents of Europe get a break soon. I have been to Chicago during the winter months when it was about ten below, and that was torture enough. I can only imagine what people across the Atlantic are going through. I hope people get the power back to their homes quickly and with ease, and that children get to go back to school. But maybe not the latter. All and all, it truly is a tragedy on a catastrophic level.