PNNL scientists: east coast storms don't rule out global warming - NBC Right Now/KNDO/KNDU Tri-Cities, Yakima, WA |

PNNL scientists say east coast storms don't rule out global warming

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RICHLAND, Wash.--  Warmer temperatures here, blizzards back east; is it because of global warming?

That's the question on some minds, and scientists at PNNL have an answer.

Critics have pounced this winter, saying such massive snow totals along the east coast means we are cooling, not warming.

But is all this talk about cold temps just hot air? Scientists at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory say: Remember, isolated weather events don't relate to overall climate change.

"There's really very little to do with weather and climate," says climate scientist, Steven Ghan. "Weather occurs on a very short time scale it fluctuates it really has very little to do with the longer term changes of global warming."

The overall trend is still towards slow global warming. Individual seasons are more dependent on things like El Nino, La Nina, and changes to the jet stream.

"There is variability in the earth's atmospheric system," says atmospheric scientist, Chuck Long. "It's a very complicated system there are many factors that influence both weather and climate. The difference between weather and climate is time scale."

"We're seeing a slow trend averaged over decades a systematic warming," says Ghan. "It's very gradual but its persistent and it will continue over centuries."

PNNL says the storms this year are partly from El Nino and also because the jet stream has shifted the trough further south into Texas and the southeast. As for us, the jet stream has moved up a little, so we get more warmer weather.  

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