Gwyneth Katker

As climates fluctuate, many believe that the immense cold fronts and Arctic outbreak are due to global warming.

Samhitha Katuru, Reporter

Across America, a new problem has taken the country by storm-quite literally. For the past two weeks, an arctic outbreak, with temperatures rivaling those of the winter season, has seemingly swept through the United States. This sudden plunge in temperatures is accompanied by snow and ice, bringing the feel of winter down to the Gulf of Mexico. In some states, this influx of winter weather has brought unprecedented consequences. Texas’ power grid, for instance, has been crippled, taking away necessities such as a proper source of drinkable water, forcing many citizens to find ways to boil their water for healthy consumption without electricity and keep warm without heaters, and in many houses a fireplace.

“My reaction to the blast of cold weather was to be extremely surprised and disappointed. 2020 was a long year, with a whole global pandemic and a domestic protest. Adding this new climate disaster seemed surreal. I sympathize with those in the South experiencing the consequences. Power outages, drainage problems, and lack of drinkable water must be terrible to deal with. I can only hope that the government is somewhat able to offer aid.” expresses IB sophomore Angela Jin.

Many are questioning this newly declared disaster, wondering how and why it came to be. Contrary to some conspiracy theories, the winter wonderland has not been brought by Biden, Trump, or any other political figure. Truly, it has little to do with their view and beliefs at all. The real culprit responsible is global warming. In hindsight, this truth is not that surprising.

In a way, the political actions of government figures are responsible. Health Academy sophomore Nandita Gujurati explains that many people blame past and current political figures as they have not done anything to combat global warming despite many warnings in the past decade.

“On social media, like TikTok, I have seen many videos of people blaming this sudden cold weather on the governments’ inaction towards environmental issues.”, she states.

In layman’s terms, global warming is the gradual increase in temperature over time due to the accumulation of greenhouse gases and other pollutants in the atmosphere that weakens the ozone layer protecting the Earth from excessive exposure to UV rays. The wild winter weather spread across the United States seems to contradict the mentioned definition. After all, global warming is an increase in temperature, not a sudden decrease accompanied by cruel snow. However, the circumstances surrounding the current situation agree with the theory that the arctic weather originates from global warming. Meteorologists predicted the very weather America is experiencing weeks in advance from a largely recognizable phenomenon known as Sudden Stratospheric Warming (SSW). SSWs are a natural occurrence that is exhibited every few winters, after which identified are followed by extreme temperatures. This year a polar-vortex, a large upper-air weather pattern in the North Pole or Arctic, happened to be pushed down by jet streams due to unstable central temperatures. Global warming caused higher temperatures in the Arctic, causing the jet streams to weaken and lengthen, sending cold temperatures down south. 

“There is evidence that climate change can weaken the polar vortex, which allows more chances for frigid Arctic air to ooze into the Lower 48,” University of Georgia meteorology professor Marshall Shepherd said.

This sudden temperature change, however, has happened once in the past few years. This year’s event just gained more traction because it occurred during a pandemic.

“In January 2019, a cold air outbreak swept across portions of the Northern Plains and the Midwestern United States. Temperatures plunged below minus-40 degrees Fahrenheit, with wind chills in the neighborhood of 60 degrees below zero. However, despite this bitter cold snap, the nation’s average temperature for the month was nearly three degrees Fahrenheit warmer than normal. January 2019 was also the globe’s third-warmest January on record.”, reference Yale Climate Connections.

While the two events have their differences, the root of the problem remains the same: global warming. The greenhouse effect mentioned will not be solved by chance. As citizens of this planet, everyone must do their duty to prevent further damage and climate change. In this way, teens on social media are right; politicians must also take charge, placing environmental issues above personal goals and issues to better the planet. After all, the future generations’ fate depends on actions taken today.