2011‎ > ‎


Source: Union of Concerned Scientists
URL: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v6ia38Ju_g8
Date: 30/01/2011
Event: Brenda Ekwurzel: "we've sort of blown open the planet's freezer door"
Credit: Union of Concerned Scientists, MSNBC

  • Dr. Brenda Ekwurzel: Climate scientist at the Union of Concerned Scientists
  • Alex Witt: Anchor, MSNBC

Alex Witt: Well, another winter storm is bearing down on areas already dealing with last week's snow that left nearly 2 feet of snow, in some parts. And along with the winter weather, this storm could be followed by more intense cold, giving no chance for last week's snow to melt, and no break at all for the winter-weary. So why are we getting so much snow? Joining me now from Washington DC is climate scientist Brenda Ekwurzel, with the Union of Concerned Scientists. And with another good morning to you. The name of your group, the Union of Concerned Scientists - why the name and how much, in terms of what's happening right now, reflects the reason for your name?

Brenda Ekwurzel: One thing we're concerned about is what's really going on, with these winter storms. What's going on is that we are burning a lot of coal and oil, and that is leading to extra carbon in our atmosphere, trapping extra heat. And that's turbo-charging our weather patterns. What this means is that during summer and springtime, where it rains, it's falling much heavier than it did decades ago. And during the winter, we're recording even heavier snowstorms. What this means is that climate change is creating a new normal, and officials need to prepare their communities to create safer communities for this future condition.

Alex Witt: You know, Brenda, I'm going to have my director put up the graphic that will show the snow totals and how disproportionate they are, this winter. But you know, when you make an argument [?] that climate change, global warming and the like, it's really hard to see how the warming is bringing all this snow. I mean, can you put that together in a logical explanation?

Brenda Ekwurzel: Sure. Well, what we know is that we've had record ocean temperatures, they're warming up, this creates a lot of moisture sources. We also have, with climate change, we have shifting jet stream, and we've sort of blown open the planet's freezer door, and the Arctic blasts are coming down, combining with this moist Gulf of Mexico moisture, and you create this terrible combination which dumps a lot of snow. And ironically, this past summer we had record, third-lowest sea ice extent, which led to a cascading set of conditions, and the shifting jet stream and this more moist from the warmer oceans, that lead to this terrible combination of very treacherous snowstorms, this season.

Alex Witt: Oh indeed treacherous, they've been fatal, as you know, in many places. Brenda, I'm curious - can you make the leap between an extreme winter like this to expectations of an extreme summer, in terms of heat?

Brenda Ekwurzel: What, ironically, with climate change, we see that the warmers [sic] are rising much faster than the summer. So our temperatures are increasing faster during the winter season than during the summer season. And so that creates a situation when you have more moist conditions, it's still below freezing, you can create very heavy snowfall. If you have very extreme, cold, cold, cold conditions, you tend to have a little bit less precipitation in the form of snow.

Alex Witt: Okay.

Brenda Ekwurzel: So ironically, we get a little more snow, as we're warming up the planet.

Alex Witt: Well, okay, there you have it. Brenda Ekwurzel, thank you so much for weighing in - appreciate that.