Dedicated to the Restoration of Progressive Democracy
Wednesday, June 26, 2013
The Calgary Herald Discovers the Polar Jet Stream
It's a newspaper so far right that, to steal a line from Lawrence Martin, it should be delivered in a holster. A couple of weeks ago the Calgary Herald scribes treated climate change as the delusions of the loonie left. That was then, this is now.
The Herald is now running a feature all about the polar jet stream, how it's been fueled by the vanishing Arctic sea ice, even how "it's been wobbling and weaving like a drunken driver, causing havoc as it goes."
"There's been a lot interest in the jet stream in the last two or three
years," said Dave Phillips, an Environment Canada climatologist.
But Arctic sea ice has been collapsing for the last several years.
The Arctic Ocean itself is also growing slightly warmer. It's not much, but the temperature gradient between the Arctic and
equator has weakened. The jet stream is about 14 per cent slower in the
fall now than in the 1990s, according to a recent study by Jennifer
Francis of Rutgers University in New Jersey. The continental and oceanic influences are now relatively stronger, causing the jet stream to undulate more north and south. "What we're seeing now is more of the dipping and the diving, looking more like a roller coaster than a ribbon," said Phillips.
"When that happens, it tends to kind of slow down. It doesn't move as
energetically as it did and so therefore the weather can back up."
Instead of what Phillips describes as typically Canadian
"hit-and-run" weather, systems can hang around for days. And when those
systems are wet, there's a risk of flooding.
The thing is there's nothing we can do to reverse this for the rest of the century at the very least. What we can do, what's still in our power, is to make this even worse, far worse. We can still do that and, indeed, that's the course that Conservatives like Alison Redford and Stephen Harper are determined that Canada should follow.