University of Ottawa geography professor Paul Beckwith recently asserted that the Northern Hemisphere jet stream has crossed the equator and mixed with the Southern Hemisphere jet stream in an “unprecedented” event that signifies a “global climate emergency” – however his claim has received some pushback. The Washington Post interviewed Jennifer Francis, a professor of meteorology at Rutgers University who specializes in the relationship between global warming and jet stream patterns, and she said that “cross-equator flow cannot be unprecedented, [and is] maybe not even all that unusual.”
Beckwith was alerted to the development from a blog post by environmental writer Robert Scribbler, who updated his article following the Washington Post column. Scribbler’s statement said that his post had since been vetted to remove inaccuracies and that he wanted to make it clear that “we are not saying here with all certainty that a global climate emergency due to loss of seasonality is currently upon us. More that the situation appears to be worsening and that this particular global climate emergency may be something that we will have to deal with over the coming years and decades.”
It should be noted that Beckwith modified the word “unprecedented” in his blog post and YouTube video titles by adding a question mark. On early Friday morning, Beckwith wrote his first response to The Washington Post piece in the comments section of his YouTube video page, saying that “in good time I will mercilessly tear this article apart limb by limb.”
So while there appears to be nothing unusual about air flow between the hemispheres, Francis has found evidence linking Arctic warming to jet stream movement. In a study published last year in the science journal, Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society and titled “Evidence Linking Rapid Arctic Warming to Mid-latitude Weather Patterns,” Francis and her colleague Natasa Skific concluded that wavy jet stream patterns are becoming more frequent, leading to extreme weather events. “As emissions of greenhouse gases continue unabated,” the paper said, “the continued amplification of Arctic warming should favor an increased occurrence of extreme events caused by prolonged weather conditions.”
Update: On July 4 Beckwith posted two YouTube videos responding to the pushback from climate scientists interviewed in The Washington Post about his controversial jet-stream-crossing-the-equator blog post. Watch part one and part two below.
Via Washington Post
Lead image via YouTube