Unprecedented blizzards in the eastern United States have triggered renewed debate about climate change, with some critics using the record snow to attack the concept of global warming. Some experts have been quick to point out that the extreme weather is consistent with a pattern of climate change.
Record-breaking snows in the U.S. capital have proponents and skeptics of climate change in a heated debate.
Many critics of the theory of global warming say the recent blizzards in the Northeastern United States seem more like "global cooling.
But Joseph Romm, a climate change scientist at the Center for American Progress in Washington, says the snow and extreme winter weather conditions are consistent with a general trend of global warming.
Climatologists on both sides of the debate agree no single weather event may be used to prove, or disprove, the existence of climate change.
Romm says the overall warming trend recorded by scientists during the last century was not enough to push winter temperatures above freezing, but he says the rising temperatures and warmer air have caused an increase in the amount of precipitation over the winter. And that fact he says could explain the record snowfall that crippled the U.S. capital and surrounding areas over the past two weeks.
Climatologists like Romm say that as the effects of climate change strengthen over time, we should expect to see more instances of extreme weather conditions.
That could mean more severe droughts, hotter heat waves, and snowier winters in the years ahead.