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Will Winter 2014 Become the Norm?

Climate change may alter jet stream pattern, scientists say

WEDNESDAY, April 16, 2014 (HealthDay News) -- The jet stream pattern that caused the bitter cold and continuing snow in many parts of the United States this winter could become the norm because of climate change, according to a new study.

"If this trend continues, it could contribute to more extreme winter weather events in North America, as experienced this year with warm conditions in California and Alaska and intrusion of cold Arctic air across the eastern U.S.A," senior author Gabe Bowen, an associate professor of geology and geophysics at the University of Utah, said in a university news release.

"A sinuous or curvy winter jet stream means unusual warmth in the West, drought conditions in part of the West, and abnormally cold winters in the East and Southeast," he explained.

"We saw a good example of extreme wintertime climate that largely fit that pattern this past winter," Bowen said.

The study was published online April 16 in the journal Nature Communications.

The normal wavy jet stream pattern over North America became established about 4,000 years ago, but climate change may intensify this pattern and lead to more frequent and/or severe winter weather, the researchers said.

More information

The U.S. National Institutes of Health outlines the health effects of climate change.

SOURCE: University of Utah, news release, April 16, 2014
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