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  • fizrwinnr11 fizrwinnr11 Feb 7, 2011 3:31 PM Flag

    If this is true, the value of my house should just soar

    Printed in the 2/11 edition of The Week magazine:


    While it has been freezing in moderate latitudes, temperatures in northeastern Canada and Greenland have been as much as 20 degrees above normal. That strange flip-flop in temperatures, says the New York Times, is related to "the most striking change in the terrain of the planet in recent decades": the Arctic Ocean's loss of 30 percent of its surface ice since 1979.

    Ordinarily, that ice helps preserve the extreme cold that makes air at the pole much denser than it is at less-chilly, lower latitudes, creating a pressure barrier between the two regions that works "like a fence," says Michelle L'Heureux, a researcher with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Warmer Arctic temperatures weaken that boundary allowing the stream of bone-chilling air that normally circles the Arctic zone in a polar vortex to escape southward while warm air rushes upward to take its place.

    Some scientists point out that the barrier has been intermittently breached before and that two exceptional winters aren't enough to prove anything. But if the atmospheric fence against frigid Arctic air has been seriously compromised, brutally cold, snowy winters may be the new normal in much of the U.S. and Europe.

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