The student news site of Edwardsville High School

Tiger Times

The student news site of Edwardsville High School

Tiger Times

The student news site of Edwardsville High School

Tiger Times

Recent Frigid Weather Indicates Changing Climate

Photo courtesy of AP Images.
First responders stand in the floodwaters of the Perkiomen Creek at Graterford Road in Collegeville, Pa., Monday, Dec. 18, 2023

As we trudge into school from the parking lot, bundled up in scarves and coats, it’s easy for us to forget that 2023 was the hottest year on record for Illinois.

According to the College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences, Illinois’ weather patterns have shifted significantly over the last 30 years. The U.S. Department of Agriculture changed the plant hardiness map zones for Illinois this November, indicating that our climate and the plants that can sustain life here have changed dramatically.

Illinois isn’t the only state that saw a change. Within the last 10 years, more than half the states in the country have shifted into warmer zones.

For some, this information seems contradictory to the frigid weather we’ve been having this past month.

“There’s a misconception that climate change means all weather will be warmer,” environmental club member junior Luci Klingensmith said. “Though it does mean there’s an overall rise in global temperature, that does not mean we won’t [still] experience cold weather.”

According to senior Grace Taylor, another environmental club member, the cold weather we’ve seen lately is a result of climate change.

“Cold weather is not necessarily a result of global warming but a result of climate change,” Taylor said. “The weather we’re having is to some degree natural. The Earth has always and will always experience climate change. However, the weather we’re experiencing currently is a result of accelerated climate change due to human activity.”

As temperatures along our oceans and in our atmosphere increase, the differences in air density that help to cycle warm air from along the equator become disrupted.

“These extreme changes in weather are basically our atmosphere trying to compensate for this disruption in energy cycling,” science teacher Amy Burian said.

These disturbances in air patterns are what cause both our hot and cold weather extremes. The polar vortex, a convection of cold air that usually rests at the north pole, is held in place by the polar jet stream.

According to Mrs. Burian, changes in air cycling can cause too much or too little solar energy to reach the pole, which causes that circular snowy cap at our pole to become off-kilter and drift down into lower latitudes, causing our cold weather extremes.

“The weather we’re having now allows us to experience the actual effects of climate change and the harm they can cause,” Taylor said. “If this weather continued on with frequent ice occurring, it wouldn’t be sustainable, and this is true with any extreme weather.”

The changes we’re seeing now suggest that these global changes in climate and these extreme weather conditions are likely going to continue to get worse.

“I think we’re going to start seeing, not necessarily more frequent, but more extreme drought periods, more extreme flooding,” Mrs. Burian said. “Whenever we wrapped up 2023, we were still technically in a drought period… we’re going to start seeing that happen on a more extreme basis, but I think we’ll also see the other side of that coin, where we see excess rainfall, way beyond our average.”

Klinginsmith noted that these changing climate patterns are starting to receive more attention by the public.

“I think the effects of global warming are starting to resonate with people,” Klingensmith said. “Especially considering how much worse it will get and that this is likely just the beginning.”