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The Aquilian

    The causes of January’s extreme weather

    The+80+-degree+temperature+day+caused+fog+to+form+throughout+the+area%2C+notably+around+the+Potomac+River+on+January+25.+Photo+taken+by+Brendan+Rohde
    The 80 -degree temperature day caused fog to form throughout the area, notably around the Potomac River on January 25. Photo taken by Brendan Rohde

    Over the month of January, the weather in the DMV area was a rollercoaster of extremes, fluctuating wildly from heavy rains to unexpected snowfalls, that affected schools and culminated in a surprising heatwave with temperatures soaring to 80 degrees, which broke local heat records for January.

    Mr. John Ausema, who teaches AP Environmental Science, offered his insight on the impact that these recent weather trends might have on the local environment and what weather phenomena contributed to the bizarre sequence of weather.

    “I think the impacts are that it just makes it harder for people to adapt to dramatic changes […] as we experience just personally, to swing from really cool to really warm in a few days. It’s tough to adapt to, o, at the level of vehicles and structures that can be damaging, causing physical damage to materials and that sort of thing,” Mr. Ausema explained.

    Mr. Ausema also spoke on the effects of the polar vortex, a circular movement of air around the North Pole. It has the effect of pushing cold air into areas closer to the equator. He wonders if the change in ice at the North Pole is affecting these weather patterns.

    “There’s at least some evidence to suggest that’s the case, and I think we can also say, even if it turns out that shifts in the polar vortex aren’t really happening due to shifts in ice levels, it’s clear that we have overall more heat in the system, and more, overall, are a shift in the average temperature,” Mr. Ausema said.

    Though Mr. Ausema believes that these specific weather conditions over the last month have not really been related but more of a random collection of events.

    Theo Schindler, a senior who took AP Environmental Science last year, commented on how January’s extreme weather might be the result of climate change.

    “While I enjoyed not having to go to school for a change because of the weather, I think that the extreme weather was supposed to occur naturally, but the variability of the DMVs weather in the last few years has been caused in part by climate change, which disrupts the normal weather patterns,” said Theo Schindler’24.

     

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