Global Warming is Causing Cold Spells

Pro: Climate Change Cause Global Weirding

Here’s a video from Texas A&M scientist Katherine Hayhoe discussing this issue.

It’s freezing outside, so all that talk about global warming is just a bunch of hooey…right?

But how is global warming to blame? (for the cold weather)

The answer is simple: because the phenomenon that causes the polar vortex to break down is known as sudden stratospheric warming, where the upper layers of the atmosphere increase in temperature by approximately 30–50 °C (54–90 °F) over the span of only a few days. The fact that there are land masses located where they are in the northern hemisphere means that as those land temperatures increase, they transport their heat to even more northern latitudes.

The polar vortex, typically, is a single-cell or double-cell region concentrated at polar latitudes….

National Weather Service

The exact details of how this works are complex, but the explanation is simple: warmer land temperatures, particularly in northern North America and northern Eurasia, allow more heat to be transported into the Arctic stratosphere. A warmer Earth makes sudden stratospheric warming events more likely and more frequent. And those events destabilize the polar vortex, bring cold air down into the mid-latitudes, and cause the extreme weather we’re experiencing right now.


Con: Extreme Weather has always Occurred

Global warming does not cause an increase in the frequency or severity of cold weather events such as colder than normal winter outbreaks of “The Polar Vortex”. The United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) reports it is “very likely” that there have been fewer cold days and nights in recent decades.  The U.N. IPCC reports it is “virtually certain” that there will continue to be decreases in cold temperature extremes.

Climate alarmists frequently respond to polar vortex events and other extreme cold weather by claiming global warming is to blame. Not only does that defy common sense, it also defies scientific evidence and the findings of the U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). The IPCC’s latest report says it is “very likely” that there have been fewer cold days and nights in recent decades and it is “virtually certain” that there will be “deceases in cold extremes” due to global warming.

Extreme cold spells have always occurred and likely always will. Blaming a “polar vortex” or other extreme cold events on global warming defies common sense, scientific observations, and the findings of the IPCC.

There are several things the polar vortex is NOT. Polar vortexes are not something new. The term “polar vortex” has only recently been popularized, bringing attention to a weather feature that has always been present. It is also not a feature that exists at the Earth’s surface. Weather forecasters examine the polar vortex by looking at conditions tens of thousands of feet up in the atmosphere; however, when we feel extremely cold air from the Arctic regions at Earth’s surface, it is sometimes associated with the polar vortex. This is not confined to the United States. Portions of Europe and Asia also experience cold surges connected to the polar vortex. By itself, the only danger to humans is the magnitude of how cold temperatures will get when the polar vortex expands, sending Arctic air southward into areas that are not typically that cold.

In short, there is no cause to be alarmed when you hear about the polar vortex, but you should be prepared for colder temperatures.


On Page 90 – Chapter 12 of the UN IPCC Sixth Assessment Report. Emergence of Climate Impact Drivers (CIDs) it clearly states with high confidence in the “heat and cold” section that cold spells are on the decrease.

The color corresponds to the confidence of the region with the highest confidence: white colors indicate where evidence of a climate change signal is lacking or the signal is not present, leading to overall low confidence of an emerging signal. See the key at the bottom for the meaning of all colors.


  1. Justin Rowlatt, “Polar Vortex: What Role Does Climate Change Play?,” BBC News,
    January 31, 2019,
  2. What is the Polar Vortex? NOAA,
  3. Sonia Seneviratne and Neville Nicholls, coordinating lead authors, et al., “Changes
    in Climate Extremes and their Impacts on the Natural Physical Environment,”
    Chapter 3, Managing the Risks of Extreme Events and Disasters to Advance
    Climate Change Adaptation (SREX). A Special Report of Working Groups I and II
    of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (Cambridge, U.K.: Cambridge
    University Press, 2012), accessed August 14, 2021,
  4. Chapter 12 of the UN IPCC Sixth Assessment Report. Emergence of Climate Impact Drivers, page 90,
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