Chicago Climate Change

Climate Change Causing Extreme Weather Patterns in Chicagoland: Expert

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The Chicago area has experienced record high temperatures, heavy winds, and most notably no measurable snow this month, and the question on everyone's mind is whether the unusual weather is here to stay.

Scott Collis, an atmospheric scientist with Argonne National Laboratory, said rising global temperatures and the loss of Arctic sea ice is buckling the jet stream.

The jet stream is a set of winds that sits about half-way up in the Earth's atmosphere at about 30,000 feet, with the winds directly impacting our weather patterns.

“When you have a jet stream that doesn’t move, you get hit by the same kind of weather system again and again and again,” Collis said.

According to Collis, climate change is causing more extreme weather patterns. 

“Not every event I see is directly attributable to climate change, but climate change loads the dice,” Collis said.  “It’s not necessarily that we’re going to get severe storms every day. We’re just gonna get more severe storms and more of this extreme weather that we’re seeing.”

Collis said the world has warmed about 1.1 degrees Celsius in recent years. He said if global temperatures stay within 1.5 degrees Celsius, the Chicago area could see more rain, windier winters and falls, less windy summers and a general increase in temperature.

“We don’t want to go over that, ever,” Collis said.

Talking about climate change, burning less carbon and monitoring our carbon footprint will help slow climate change, according to Collis.

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