Global warming also means global slowing and bad weather

Jun 2, 2015, 6:40 AM | Updated: 9:12 am
As the Earth warms, the jet stream slows causing severe weather. (AP)...
As the Earth warms, the jet stream slows causing severe weather. (AP)

We’ve all heard plenty about global warming. But there’s another factor in climate change I’ll bet you haven’t heard about &#8212 global slowing.

“Because of climate change, it is less of a temperature difference between the arctic and the rest of the northern hemisphere and that makes the jet stream weaker,” CBS’ Kris Van Cleave explains. “A weaker jet stream means that weather can essentially get stuck.”

But the effects of a slower jet stream reaches farther than the north.

In the US, the latest episode of extreme weather ended up flooding a huge portion of the southern plains &#8212 killing 30 people and destroying thousands of homes.

On the other side of the world: an extraordinary heat wave that killed well over 2,000 people in India.

But according to climate scientists, they were both caused by the same thing.

A paper published by researchers from Rutgers says the climate change has slowed down the jet stream. So now when a weather pattern develops, instead of moving, it tends to return to the same spot again and again.

“Everything slows and with it weather patterns persist over areas for longer periods of time,” said Climatologist Dave Robinson. “That could make a wet situation dangerously wet; it could make a heat wave dangerously long.”

The jet stream flows west to east. That’s why flying from the West Coast to the East Coast is faster than flying back.

But with a slower jet stream, the recent storms in Texas and Oklahoma stayed there &#8212 instead of moving East, leaving the southern plains soaked and the Northeast unusually dry, while in Alaska, the temperature hit 90.

CBS’S Kris Van Cleave recently spoke with Chris Vaccaro of the National Weather Service and asked why May had such unusual weather.

“Nature hit pause,” Vaccaro said. “We can even see this in the winter months in the Northeast, like in the Boston area where we had repeated snow storms over a short period of time.”

The good news is that the jet stream seems to have recovered. The damage to the southern Plains will take a little longer.

Dave Ross on KIRO Newsradio 97.3 FM
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Global warming also means global slowing and bad weather