Residents living in the northeast quarter of the US and parts of Canada have been blasted by a rash of cold weather recently – and it turns out global warming could be behind it. Chris Mooney, host of the Climate Desk, put together an informative report on exactly how global warming could lead to more frequent, heavy snow storms.

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While it might seem counter intuitive that warmer air can lead to more snowfall, it makes scientific sense. As the air becomes warmer, it holds more moisture. Just think about how during the summer, the air feels more like a soup. On a global scale, this warmer air makes the atmosphere wetter, while winter temperatures are still low enough to produce whiteout conditions. Climate change also warms the world’s oceans, from which east coast storms gather their strength.

It’s not a recent trend, either. Between the years of 1958 to 2007 the US has seen a remarkable increase in heavy precipitation. Rainfall in the northeast has increased 67%, and rainfall in areas surrounding the Great Lakes has increased 31%. In the last few weeks since the New Year, northern parts of America have been assaulted by two Polar Vortexes, and then there was the “Snowmageddon” in Feburary of 2010. While snowfalls will be more frequent and heavy, the flaky cover isn’t expected to last long in a warmer world where Arctic ice packs are already melting.

+ Climate Desk

Via Grist

Images © Steve Webster and markstimson