Jet Stream Shift Could Mean Harsher Winters: Page 2

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Dire impact on agriculture

Does a frigid winter prove that global warming is fake? DNews steps you through why it does not.
Yasuhide Fumoto/Getty Images

The meandering jet steam phenomenon, sometimes called "Santa's Revenge," remains a controversial idea.

"There is evidence for and against it," said Mark Serreze, director of the National Snowland Ice Data Center in Boulder, Colo.

But he said rising Arctic temperatures are directly linked to melting ice caps.

"The sea ice cover acts as a lid which separates the ocean from a colder atmosphere," Serreze told the conference.

US Navy, Coast Guard Prep for Ice-Free Arctic

But if the lid is removed, then warmth contained in the water rises into the atmosphere.

This warming trend and the shifting jet stream will have a dire impact on agriculture, especially in the farm-rich middle-latitudes in the United States.

"We are going to see changes in patterns of precipitation, of temperatures that might be linked to what is going on in the far north," said Serreze.

Jerry Hatfield, head of the National Laboratory for Agriculture and Environment in the midwestern state of Iowa, warned that this is not a phenomenon that affects only the United States.

"Look around the world -- we produce the bulk of our crops around this mid-latitude area," he said.

The main impact on agriculture and livestock will not come from small temperature changes, but rather from temperature extremes and the weather patterns that hold them in place for longer periods of time.

Droughts and freezes are already having "a major impact on animal productivity; it influences meat production, milk and eggs production," he said.

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