How Much Is The Weather In Texas Due To Climate Change?
For People watching this week's weather include marshall shepherd who was director of the atmospheric studies program at the university of georgia professor shepherd. Welcome back to the program. Thank you for having me. I just want to start with the obvious. We have really really cold weather in a region does not normally expect it. Can we connect that to climate change. Yeah that question always gets asked. But i always start the answer. That question with a reminder that it is winter and it is february and get cold outbreaks naturally This is a case. Where that word. The polar vortex has resurfaced typically. It's sort of keeping that cold air up in the arctic but occasionally it can be breached or weakened you get these disruptions in the polar vortex and then you can get this cold dense air news down into the lower forty eight. That's what we're seeing there. There is some evidence in the science literature that these disruptions will happen more frequently and so that we may see more of these types of events. But it'd be sort of scientifically-responsible to link this specific event to climate change. But we know that there may be a connection Going forward with these types of events. Appreciate the frankness there. There has been some research suggesting that arctic warming is weakening the jet stream which might change the kinds of air that come down to the united states. Does that seem to be happening. Yeah that's that's what. I was the looting to with this disruption of the polar vortex. There's something called arctic amplification whereby the arctic regions warming a bit more intense than we are down in the lower forty eight and there are signs. The papers that suggests that that causes a much wavier jet stream pattern with more high amplitude ways if you think back to high school physics so we get these really cold events but we also get these really warm events during the warm season as well so this isn't an unprecedented coal. We've seen it before. But as my colleague judah cohen has often talked about these things that used to happen less than frequent less frequently. But it seems that they're happening yearly. Now which is something. We're keeping an eye on. Seems to be happening more frequently and i just want to underline another thing blindingly obvious but sometimes when it's super cold you get. I internet troll. Maybe even the former president saying something about everybody says it's global warming look how cold it is Climate change means extreme weather right. Not just warm weather. Well i i often say whether as your mood in climate is your personality. Your mood today doesn't tell me anything about your overall personality. And nor does a day of cold weather or hot weather for that matter or a week of it. So that's a very sort of poor that we do get off and on twitter and in various places when i see someone saying that. It clearly sort of illustrates that that person doesn't understand perhaps the difference between weather and climate and the other thing i would say is because our winters have been so warm as our climate changes when we do get extreme cold weather at feels that much worse because we don't experience their extreme cold as much as we used to. So suppose somebody an official from texas called you up and ask for advice and said you know we're upgrading the infrastructure we're rebuilding the infrastructure. We don't want an experience like this week to happen again. And of course because we're doing infrastructure we wanna think twenty years ahead thirty years ahead fifty years ahead. What kind of advice would you give texas atmospheric scientists. I really don't think as much about the resiliency an infrastructure. But what. I would say this first of all. Let's kill the sort of misinformation out their own renewable energy and wind farms. Because it's clear that that's not the sole issue here. Wind farms operated much colder and icier places. The deck is in fact. I'm reading that. It was a combination of various things involving natural gas. When and resilient planning. So what i would say is that we need to move from being a reactive society on these extreme compound weather events to more proactive. What i often say these days is hope or waiting and seeing is no longer acceptable acceptable weather. Risk mitigation plan. Our weather models are good enough that we can plan ahead ten days ahead months ahead and so i would. I would ask these power companies to build in more resiliency in the short term and long term because we can pretty much tell you what's going to happen now. From a weather perspective texas did have some advance warning in one question is why they were not able to take advantage of it. And i'm just going to note. Also we are reporting elsewhere in today's program. Just what you said. The texas has had problems with every kind of energy source in this cold weather. James marshall shepherd of the atmospheric science program at the university of georgia. Thanks so much. Thank you