Northern Europe and northern parts of the United States and Asia are currently experiencing extreme cold and, particularly, heavy snow falls. We have long been told that this sort of thing is just a weather variation that can happen even if the climate as a whole is getting warmer. But new research from NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Science suggests that the cold is not just an anomaly but is actually the result of warming.

The warming from climate change is greatest at Poles. This is causing Arctic ice to melt, so that the air above the Arctic is warmer and wetter than it it used to be. This warmer air expands.

Although the Arctic air is warmer than previously, it is still much colder than the air over temperate Europe and North America. So, the cold Artic air expands south forming a layer beneath the warmer temperate air – bringing cold temperatures to the north of Europe, America and Asia. Because the Arctic air is also wetter than previously, it produces extraordinarily heavy falls of snow.

The cold air flows south until it hits mountain ranges such as the Alps, the Himalayas, the Tien Shan and the Altai. South of the mountain ranges, some areas, such as the Mediterranean, are experiencing heat waves while others, such as Pakistan, are being flooded as the cold, wet air produces rain in the  Himalayas.