PerspectiveAtmospheric Science

Record-breaking winters and global climate change

Science  23 May 2014:
Vol. 344, Issue 6186, pp. 803-804
DOI: 10.1126/science.1255147

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Summary

Just when it looked like spring was arriving this year, the U.S. Midwest slipped back into winter, and Detroit recorded its snowiest season ever (see the photo). Has global warming gone into reverse, or could human emissions of greenhouse gases actually be responsible for this particular record being broken? Although the chances of cold winters can in general be expected to decrease with global warming, climate change linked to the particular circulation patterns that have prevailed in the past decade or so could have played an important role in this record-breaking winter.