Monday, January 24, 2011

Cold is relative

Certain parts of the U.S. are experiencing record-breaking low temps this winter. From the Southwest to the southeast, snowfall and wintry weather have caught nearly everyone off-guard. Even Miami experienced more than chilly temps in the mid 30's. Oddly, more northern climes are complaining about melting ice and increasing in temperatures. In Barrow, Alaska sea ice is melting.

Global Warming?

Or maybe the wobble effect.

The Earth rotates on an axis--an imaginary line running straight through the from North Pole to South Pole. The Earth rotates on this axis at a tilt, about 24 degrees from center.

Scientists estimate that it takes about 20 to 40 thousand years to go from center to 24 degree angle tilt. This means at any given time the Earth is closer or farther from the sun. The theory is that this "wobble" better explains why ice can melt on top of the world and Miami, closer to the equator, can experience consistently chilly winters. Serbian mathematician, Milutin Milankovitch said that the changes in the Earth's movements affect its climate. Before anyone came up with the term global warming, he proposed that variations in the Earth's tilt, among other things, would determine patterns of cooler and hotter cycles on the Earth's surface. Although some solar scientists say current climate cycles are too erratic to follow any solid predictions due to sudden radiation increases from sunspots.

Sources: Discovery Channel