My Letters in the New York Times on Energy

May 2, 2008

May 2, 2008

August 27, 2008

May 2, 2008

September 22, 2009

February 20, 2010

2011 February 3

The New York Times

February 3, 2011

Speaking of the Weather …

To the Editor:

Re “Cold Jumps Arctic ‘Fence,’ Stoking Winter’s Fury” (front page, Jan. 25):

Climate scientists tend to overcomplicate things. These processes are not that hard to understand.

There is no contradiction between global warming and cold winters in Europe and on the East Coast. These are caused partly by the melting of the ice in Greenland, which is slowing the gigantic heat conveyor (the Gulf current) that used to bring more heat from the Equator than it does today.

On top of this, because of the warming of the arctic air, its density is dropping, which weakens the polar vortex that used to keep the frigid air near the pole and causes cold jet steams to move south. Arctic warming is further accelerated by the melting of the sea ice, which increases the absorption of solar heat, because the water absorbs more solar energy than does ice (which reflects it).

The increase in rainstorms and flooding is also caused by the general warming of the planet, which increases the rate of sea water vaporization. This in turn — as the air moves north — results in a higher rate of condensation (more rain). In the winter, this increased water circulation results in more snowstorms. Their intensity is increased because of the cold air jets that move south as the polar vortex diminishes because of arctic warming.

Béla Lipták
Stamford, Conn., Jan. 25, 2011

The writer is the editor of the Environmental Engineers’ Handbook.

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