Is the polar vortex linked to climate change?

Kathie Dello said it is unlikely the Pacific Northwest would ever see extremely cold weather.

Posted: Jan 30, 2019 5:55 PM

CORVALLIS, Ore. -- A record-breaking cold wave is moving through the Midwest, and that leaves some questioning if the polar vortex can be linked to climate change.

KEZI 9 News spoke with Kathie Dello, an associate director of the Oregon Climate Change Research Institute at Oregon State University, who said it's  unlikely that we would ever see extremely cold weather in the Pacific Northwest. She said this is due to the fact that the Pacific Northwest falls under a high pressure ridge, meaning warmer and sunnier weather than our neighbors in the Midwest and the East Coast experience.

Dello said jet streams are sinking lower in the Midwest and Arctic air is seeping into the country, which could be linked to climate change. She said to think of the air moving into the Midwest as a fence.

"There's research going on right now about if this weakening of that fence I talked about is due to climate change, but the research right now is really preliminary," Dello said.

She said although we are seeing cold temperatures in the Midwest, many parts of the world are experiencing abnormally warm weather.

"If you were to look at a Google map, you're going to see red everywhere else," Dello said. "There's a massive historic heat wave in Australia. Alaska is warm as well. So, I mean it's really just a small part of the planet."

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