The Polar Vortex Collapse Is A Lesson On Climate Change

This week, the news has been about a record cold snap across the country.  This has had dramatic impacts, including freezing temperatures and snow across Texas, leading to electrical blackouts from a failing power grid. Over 73% of the continental USA was covered in snow - the most since records began.  

On the other side of the world, Europe was getting blasted by their own record cold snap. Where Dutch canals froze enough to allow ice skating for the first time in years.  

What caused this generational winter event?  It was the collapse of the polar vortex, which is a circulatory wind pattern that traps cold air over the Arctic during the winter months.  If the vortex collapses, large amounts of cold air rushes out to lower latitudes, bringing freezing weather.  

This video shows the polar vortex in 2021, and towards the end, you can see it collapse and spread outward through the USA and Europe. 

 

Climate Change Is the Cause

Unfortunately climate change increases the probability of the polar vortex collapse.  As the Earth warms, the polar regions experience much higher warming than lower latitudes. This weakens the vortex.  

The following picture shows the global average temperature anomaly over the past 50 years. The Arctic polar region has warmed twice as fast as the rest of the Earth.    

This is bad news, because the Arctic is one of the regions that can amplify climate change, as discussed in our Climate Change Feedback article.  



We Must Turn Down The Heat

The collapse of the Polar Vortex helps explain the threat of rapid climate change. We need to reverse this change, which means adopting the Ocean Positive approach of reducing emissions and sequestering CO2 in blue carbon ecosystems.  

As we explained in our Net Zero Gives Us Hope article, the Earth has the capacity to sequester enormous amounts of CO2, if we can just give it a helping hand.

That’s why we support the restoration of the world’s most effective ecosystems to sequester carbon, and encourage everyone to live an Ocean Positive lifestyle.  


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