#ChiBeria Reveals a Scary Truth About the Weather

December 15th 2016

Danielle DeCourcey

There's been a slew of beautiful and frigid pictures on social media of the recent snow in the Chicago-area from the city's residents which quickly lead to a trending hashtag, #ChiBeria.

The polar vortex descending upon the Midwest could actually reveal something important about global warming and climate change. 

Twitter users shared stunning pictures of the frozen landscape using the hashtag on Thursday. 

#ChiBeria is a play on the city's name and Siberia, which is the famously cold region in Russian that's home to the "coldest town on earth."

Although these tweets make the best of a frigid situation, the polar vortex over the Midwest could have scary ties to global warming. 

The term polar vortex came into wide circulation in 2014, but the phenomenon itself is not new. 

Vox's Brian Resnick gave a simple definition: "When meteorologists talk about the 'polar vortex,' they’re talking about the mass of cold, low-pressure air that consistently hovers over the Arctic," he wrote. "It’s called a 'vortex' because it spins counter-clockwise like a hurricane does."

Usually polar vortex events stay over the North Pole, but when warmer air weakens one, it can can move down the map toward North America. 

It seems counterintuitive at first, but global warming could create more polar vortex events in U.S., according to Vox. 

Jennifer Francis, co-founder of the Rutgers University Climate and Environmental Change Initiative, told Mother Jones that warmer air causes a weaker jet stream, and that in turn can cause severe cold weather events to dip further South. 

"When the jet stream gets weaker, it meanders more," Francis told Mother Jones. "It wanders north and south and when it gets into one of these wandering and wavy patterns, that's when we see these pools of cold air pulled southward."

President-elect Donald Trump tweeted about cold weather in 2014. 

Trump tweeted in January 2014 that severe cold weather events prove that global warming isn't real. However, experts at E Magazine's Earthtalk wrote that cold weather in one winter does not refute global warming, but trends over time do. 

"On the surface it certainly can appear that way," they wrote. "But just because some of us are suffering through a particularly cold and snowy winter doesn’t refute the fact that the globe is warming as we continue to pump carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases into the atmosphere."

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