Global warming happens, but snow continues to fall 

The Earth is getting warmer, but snow storms on the east coast seem more intense than ever. This winter, a series of nor’easters hit the East Coast.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration defines a Nor’easter as a ”storm along the East Coast of North America, so called because the winds over the coastal area are typically from the northeast.”  

Trees on Cabrini University’s campus fell due to heavy snowfall. Photo by Brielle Toff.

Snow storms have impacted the North East, with four major storms happening since 2018 began. Power outages and downed trees were a common result of the heavy snow fall experienced this winter. Cabrini University has cancelled five class days since the semester began due to inclement weather.   

Climate change, according to the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, “refers to a broad range of global phenomena created predominantly by burning fossil fuels, which add heat-trapping gases to Earth’s atmosphere.” This includes the rise of sea levels, melting polar ice caps and the disruption of crop production. 

Global warming is the long-term, overall warming of the planet. Over the past 50 years, the average global temperature has risen at the fastest rate in recorded history, with 2016 being the hottest year on record.

One of the prime factors of global warming is carbon emissions and greenhouse gases trapped in the atmosphere. These gases contributed to the increase the overall temperature of the Earth, 2 degrees since 1880.  

Ajeya Rayman, sophomore biology major, thinks people should learn about climate change due to the impacts it will have in the future.

“I believe there should be a greater opportunity for people to learn about climate change because this can turn into a bigger problem later,” Rayman said.

Cynthia McGauley, chemical and hygiene officer at Cabrini University, is also the professor of ecology in Cabrini’s science department. She discussed some results of climate change.

“Long term effects [of climate change] will include a decrease in sea ice and an increase in permafrost thawing. In addition, an increase in heat waves and heavy precipitation,” said McGauley.

Global warming is also linked to other extreme weather conditions. In September 2017, Hurricane Maria devastated Puerto Rico and Dominica. This storm lasted more than two weeks and was the deadliest storm of the hyperactive 2017 Atlantic hurricane season. Research from the National Climate Assessment states that due to higher sea surface temperatures, a storm is able to pick up more energy over the ocean. 

While the Earth’s temperature rises, winters in the northeast are still strong. Due to the geographic location on the planet, the ocean and wind patterns, winter can become extreme.  

“Reducing emissions worldwide to keep global warming under a dangerous threshold is what the Paris Agreement of 2015 called for,” McGauley said. “We can reach that goal by reducing heat trapping emissions, slow down deforestation and increase the use of renewable energy. Eat less meat and eat more locally produced foods. Recycle and reuse. Educate our children and peers about climate change.” 

One Response to Global warming happens, but snow continues to fall 

  1. rakooi May 14, 2018 at 5:39 pm #

    Vaughan Pratt, Professor (Emeritus since 2000) at Stanford University (1981-present)
    Dec 22, 2017

    Which factor is swiftly changing the earths climate?

    Well, one often-mentioned factor is CO2.
    Over the past millennium this graph, most of which is obtained from Antarctic ice cores,
    shows CO2 holding steady at 280 ± 5 ppm up to 1800, when global population was about
    a billion people and sailing ships and the horse-and-buggy
    were the most advanced forms of transportation,
    consuming relatively little energy per capita compared with today.
    Since then Earths’ population has grown to seven billion people,
    each consuming an order of magnitude more energy than back then,
    almost entirely by burning carbon-based fuels and
    releasing the resulting CO2 into the atmosphere as by far the most convenient place to put it.

    In the late 1700s Swiss polymath and alpinist Horace de Saussure
    was puzzled by why mountains were much colder at the top,
    despite being closer to the Sun and having less atmosphere between them and the Sun.
    It was well known at the time that glass tended to trap heat from the Sun,
    so de Saussure speculated that the atmosphere was trapping heat the way glass does.
    To confirm the heat-trapping ability of glass de Saussure
    built a nested stack of boxes each with a glass window at top.

    He found that successively deeper boxes were hotter,
    with the innermost one hot enough to cook fruit.
    In 1826 Joseph Fourier published a book in which he calculated that
    without de Saussure’s heating mechanism as applied to the atmosphere
    there was not enough heat from the Sun to prevent the oceans from freezing over.
    In the 1850s Irish physicist John Tyndall invented this gadget.

    It allowed him to measure the heat absorbing properties of gases
    placed in the long tube at top center. He found that gases and vapors
    whose molecules had three or more atoms, such as water vapor and CO2,
    absorbed much more of the thermal radiation passing through the tube
    than did two-atom molecules such as oxygen and nitrogen.

    He concluded that the water vapor in the atmosphere was responsible
    for the heat trapping effect that de Saussure had guessed at and
    that Fourier had shown was necessary to keep the oceans from freezing over.

    In 1878 American astronomer Samuel Langley,
    who later founded the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory,
    invented the bolometer, an extremely sensitive infrared thermometer
    that could detect the warmth of “a cow quarter of a mile away”.

    In 1896 Swedish chemist and Nobel laureate Svante Arrhenius
    used Langley’s bolometer to measure the heat from the Moon
    at various altitudes above the horizon in order to estimate
    the dependence of atmospheric heat trapping on amount of water vapor
    and CO2 along the line of sight to the Moon,
    a much longer path near the horizon than at 45 degrees.

    Subtracting the expected influence of water vapor gave him that of CO2.
    From these measurements he concluded empirically that
    each doubling of CO2 trapped about the same amount of heat,
    though without offering any explanation of why the dependency on concentration
    should be logarithmic as opposed to say the square root.

    (Today we can see from the HITRAN tables for CO2 absorption lines
    that each doubling of CO2 brings 60–80 more lines into play,
    each line blocking about the same small amount of atmospheric window to space.)

    ((tens of thousands of samplings of CO2 all around the world, test ISOTOPES &
    that CLEARLY Proves that the dramatic increase in CO2 comes from BURNING FOSSIL FUELS.
    That is a distinct test )))

    But why CO2 and not water vapor?
    Well, Arrhenius’s interest was in the much higher temperatures of
    a hundred million years ago that some geologists of the time were claiming.
    Knowing that water vapor could not change much due to the Clausius-Clapeyron relation,
    he reasoned that the next candidate in line for significant heat trapping ability
    must be CO2 and that it must have been much higher back then.

    His fellow Swede, physicist Anders Ångström, disputed Arrhenius’s theory
    on the ground that the absorption bands would have saturated
    well before reaching that level, but what neither Swede knew back then was that
    CO2 had more than 30,000 absorption lines most at strengths insufficient
    to play any role until CO2 had reached far higher
    than the 6000 ppm of a hundred million years ago.
    None of this history is in dispute today in scientific circles,
    other than by a very few scientists who reject the idea that if
    CO2 continues along the trajectory in the first graph above,
    by 2100 considerable damage will have been done both to the
    biosphere and to coastal real estate valuations.