A new, real-time study from Utah State University climate scientists suggests that climate change is to blame for the "dipole" situation we had this past winter, the one that caused the Polar Vortex in the Midwest and East, and which gave us a super dry, warm winter on the West Coast.
The dipole — defined as "a combination of a strong Western high pressure ridge and deep Great Lakes low pressure trough" — is seen as a strong precursor of an El Niño year, which may arrive here later this year. And dipoles are amplified, the study says, by heat-trapping greenhouse gases.
As the AP reports, the study, by Simon Wang of Utah State, which will be published in the journal Geophysical Research Letters, is based on computer simulations, physics and historical data, but is "not as detailed and doesn't involve numerous computer model simulations as more formal attribution studies."
And, yes, there's some disagreement about all this.
The study, already much talked about in meteorological circles, is an offshoot of a growing and still not completely accepted subfield of climate research linking real-time weather extremes to changes in the jet stream and connecting those changes to man-made global warming. Several outside scientists partly praised the work, but were also cautious about jumping to conclusions and not in full agreement.
In related news, the drought now covers 100% of California for the first time in 15 years.