TUCSON, Ariz. - But how can it be so cold in the U.S. Midwest when scientists say the Earth is going through global warming?
Scientists say climate change can re-route the atmosphere so it can steer a cold wave your way.
While we're enjoying shirtsleeve weather here in the Upper Midwest it is so cold it's absolutely dangerous and you know there has to be people there who are wondering, "If there's supposed to be global warming, how can it be like this?"
University of Arizona Climate Scientist Dr. Joellen Russell says climate change can contribute to putting the Midwest in a very deep freeze because the strong high altitude winds called the jet stream have shifted for now.
Normally the jet stream acts like a fence to keep super-cold air trapped in the arctic. Dr Russell says thinks low altitude warming in the Arctic could be re-directing that fence.
"Because the CO2 in the lower atmosphere is blocking the heat from getting out the stratosphere is cooling and so it's getting intensely cold over this warm layer and it's affecting our jet stream and we think that these cold air outbreaks may be more common now because of our activated jet stream and our very cold stratosphere."
There is a difference between weather and climate. Weather is what's happening right now and over the next few days. Climate is long term.
Dr. Russell says, "We've only started to see these really big outbreaks really recently. And so we're working on it very carefully to see how much of this is due to global warming, how much of it is just weather but we're working on it. And this is what we're worried about."
Dr. Russell says over the past 10 to 20 years the Earth has set many more records for heat than it has for cold and says while our midwest is freezing, Australia is having a brutally hot summer and she says that is the signature of a planet in climate change.
For more explanation of climate issues Dr Russell recommends a site called Climate Central.