OK, go ahead and get the "Where's my global warming?" jokes out of your system. With the U.S. Midwest trudging through its second blizzard in a week, we understand.
But while it may seem contradictory at first, scientists say bigger blizzards fit the pattern they expect to see from a changing climate.
The immediate meteorological cause of the back-to-back snowstorms is a colder-than-normal mass of air that's been hovering over the central United States, combined with an amped-up jet stream that's been dipping south from Canada. That makes conditions ripe for major snowstorms after a warmer-than-normal January for most of the Lower 48.
By Zaina Adamu, CNN
Editor's note: The Science Seat is a feature in which CNN Light Years sits down with movers and shakers from many different areas of scientific exploration. This is the third installment.
Thousands of families were left devastated when Superstorm Sandy destroyed their homes in October. When it comes to these extreme climate events, according to Chris Field, founding director of the Carnegie Institution's Department of Global Ecology, the worst is yet to come.
Field is also a professor of biology and environmental earth system science at Stanford University and a member of the Intergovernmental Panel of Climate Change delegation that won the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize. He holds a doctorate from Stanford University.
CNN Light Years spoke with Field before he headed to Boston for the recent American Association for the Advancement of Science conference. Here is a transcript, edited for brevity and clarity:
"Katia was a tropical storm gathering energy over the Atlantic Ocean when one of the Expedition 28 crew took this photo on Aug. 31, 2011, from aboard the International Space Station. The picture, taken with a 12-mm focal length, was captured at 14:09:01 GMT. Later in the day Katia was upgraded to hurricane status. Two Russian spacecraft - a Progress and a Soyuz –can be seen parked at the orbital outpost on the left side of the frame."Source: NASA
The GOES-13 (Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellite) satellite captured Hurricane Irene on the morning of August 24, 2011. When the eye of the storm is visible from space, it's an indicator that the system has become a major hurricane.
"High above the Earth from aboard the International Space Station, astronaut Ron Garan snapped this image of Hurricane Irene as it passed over the Caribbean on Aug. 22, 2011.
The National Hurricane Center noted on Aug. 22 that Irene is expected to produce total rainfall accumulations of 5 to 10 inches across Puerto Rico, The Virgin Islands, the Dominican Republic, Haiti, the Southeastern Bahamas and The Turks and Caicos Islands. Isolated maximum amounts of rainfall may reach up to 20 inches."Source: NASA