Highlight of the Week: Scientists Say Cold Weather Doesn't Refute Global Warming

Though cold weather systems are out in full force in parts of the U.S. and other countries, scientists caution against equating single atmospheric events with long-term climate trends like global warming.

"It's part of natural variability," said Gerald Meehl, a senior scientist at the National Center for Atmospheric Research, of the cold snap that has hit some regions. "We'll still have record cold temperatures. We'll just have fewer of them."

That echoes the National Center for Atmospheric Research's (NCAR) finding that the ratio of record high temperatures to record low temperatures has increased dramatically in recent decades, and looks to climb even further if carbon pollution goes unchecked.

As for whether recent months have actually been as cold as they seemed, according to Deke Arndt of the National Climatic Data Center (NCDC), 2009 will actually rank among the 10 warmest since 1880 when all data is tabulated.

Winter storms may also become a bigger part of the new, reshuffled weather patterns if global warming continues unchecked. Experts say climate change could cause more frequent and severe weather extremes, which could mean more heat waves, storms, floods, droughts-and, yes, cold weather.

Published: January 14, 2010