Climate Researchers Link Climate Change, California Drought And Polar Vortex

Apr 24, 2014

A new study set to be published in Geophysical Research Letters has linked climate change, the California drought and the polar vortex. The study was performed to better predict when the next extreme winter weather event such as the polar vortex should be expected.

Climate researchers from Utah State University have discovered a link between climate change, the California drought and the polar vortex.

Assistant-professor of climate at Utah State University Simon Wang said he performed the study with other climate professors at USU and in part with the Utah Climate Center.

He said the study discovered an unusual combination of a strong western high pressure ridge and the deep Great Lakes low pressure trough. He said it is linked to a recently found precursor to El Nino, the world weather-changing phenomenon in the Pacific Ocean. The precursor itself seems amplified by a buildup of heat-trapping greenhouse gasses.

“Global warming effect is modifying the weather pattern to become more and more extreme, meaning that when there is a drought case, it becomes to become a drought that causes cold air extremes like on the East coast,” Wang said. 

He said he hopes the study will better prepare people for future extreme weather events.

“Global effect is there that amplifies weather patterns,” Wang said. “And those weather patterns of extreme weather cause us more and more in terms in life, property and money.”

He said there is still not enough data to determine when the next extreme winter weather event will occur.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.