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Old 08-31-2013, 09:27 AM
 
Location: Mid Atlantic USA
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Came across and interesting article by a British Scientist that explains why England is so much milder than eastern N. America at the same latitude.

The Source of Europe's Mild Climate American Scientist


The article starts off with this:


"I arrived in the Big Apple just before a late-summer heat wave, at a time when the temperature soared to around 35 degrees Celsius. I had never endured such blistering temperatures. And just a few months later I was awestruck by the sensation of my nostrils freezing when I went outside. Nothing like that happens in England, where the average January is 15 to 20 degrees warmer than what prevails at the same latitude in eastern North America. So what keeps my former home so balmy in the winter? And why do so many people credit the Gulf Stream?"


The climate thread for St. Petersburg got me thinking about why is Russia relatively mild given the latitude. When you look at a map of the world, N. America has much more water around it with two giant oceans, and the Eurasian Continent has a huge amount of land between it and the eastern part of its landmass. Beijing is warmer than Chicago in winter. Moscow is warmer than Minneapolis in winter. It is amazing to me how relatively mild the winter nights are in interior Russia given the latitude. Only when you get to the Korean Peninsula do the averages seem to equal out per latitude. Pyongyang at the same latitude as Chicago is slightly colder in winter and around the same in summer.

The Rocky Mountains are one of the main reasons for this. That huge north-south chain combined with the Coriolis effect forces the Jetstream into the large buckles that sweep down really cold arctic air in winter. It is the reason N. America has the highest number of frontal passages of any other continent. Once you move west toward Wyoming and Utah it gets warmer. Salt Lake city at the same latitude and yet over 4,000 ft in elevation is warmer than Chicago. Using climate models if you remove the Rocky Mountains the temp diff in winter between eastern N. America and Western Europe is cut in half.


Another quote from the article:

"Topographically forced atmospheric waves contribute significantly to the large difference in winter temperature across the Atlantic. When Battisti and I removed mountains from our climate models, the temperature difference was cut in half. Our conclusion was that the large difference in winter temperature between western Europe and eastern North America was caused about equally by the contrast between the maritime climate on one side and the continental climate on the other, and by the large-scale waviness set up by air flow over the Rocky Mountains."

I wonder what the climate of eastern N. America would be like if there were no mountains at all? I know we discussed before placing the Rockies east-west, but I never thought before about what our climate would be like if they were completely removed. Turns out it would be significantly warmer. Seems North America really is the coldest continent outside of Antarctica.
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Old 08-31-2013, 09:33 AM
 
Location: North West Northern Ireland.
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Nothing to do with the Rocky Mountains. (although the Rocky Mountains would have an effect on the Jet Stream - but I don't think that is the main reason.)

Winds blow from West to East. We live on the West of the European continent facing the atlantic ocean, therefore we face the full brunt of mild westerly patterns. Pretty simple.

Not to mention that most of Europe is not on a plateau.
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Old 08-31-2013, 09:41 AM
 
Location: Mid Atlantic USA
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mac15 View Post
Nothing to do with the Rocky Mountains. (although the Rocky Mountains would have an effect on the Jet Stream - but I don't think that is the main reason.)

Winds blow from West to East. We live on the West of the European continent facing the atlantic ocean, therefore we face the full brunt of mild westerly patterns. Pretty simple.

Not to mention that most of Europe is not on a plateau.

Did you bother to read the article?
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Old 08-31-2013, 09:56 AM
 
Location: Vancouver, BC
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I wonder what the record lows would be like in places like Myrtle Beach, SC and Savannah, GA without the Rockies. Do you think they would approach Sydney, Australia's mildness?
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Old 08-31-2013, 10:05 AM
 
Location: North West Northern Ireland.
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tom77falcons View Post
Did you bother to read the article?
Yes I did bother to read the article.
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Old 08-31-2013, 10:05 AM
 
Location: Leeds, UK
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mac15 View Post
Yes I did bother to read the article.
You read it very quickly, then.
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Old 08-31-2013, 10:08 AM
 
Location: Outer Boroughs, NYC
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@Deneb: You do realize that Savannah and Myrtle Beach are at the same latitude as... Morocco, Algeria and Tunisia? Those are torrid places with basically three seasons: January, February, and SUMMER. Vancouver they are not. Coastal Georgia and South Carolina are subtropical.

I've always heard that Canadians are as ignorant of the States as Americans are of Canada. And that's pretty sad.
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Old 08-31-2013, 10:09 AM
 
Location: Vancouver, BC
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Quote:
Originally Posted by masonbauknight View Post
@Deneb: You do realize that Savannah and Myrtle Beach are at the same latitude as... Morocco, Algeria and Tunisia? Those are torrid places with basically three seasons: January, February, and SUMMER. Vancouver they are not. Coastal Georgia and South Carolina are subtropical.

I've always heard that Canadians are as ignorant of the States as Americans are of Canada. And that's pretty sad.
I never said anything about Vancouver. I was comparing Savannah and Myrtle Beach to Sydney Australia which is roughly on the same latitude in the Southern Hemisphere but has much milder winter lows.
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Old 08-31-2013, 10:22 AM
 
Location: St Paul's Bay, Malta
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mac15 View Post
Yes I did bother to read the article.
You posted your reply SIX minutes after the OP posted the article link & you read all of it??

Last edited by nei; 08-31-2013 at 12:03 PM.. Reason: language
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Old 08-31-2013, 10:53 AM
 
Location: Edmonton, Canada
1,674 posts, read 908,304 times
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A very interesting article. Thanks for finding and posting it.

I wonder if a similar effect happens in South America. Perhaps not a fair comparison though because the latitudes are so different.

Also I wonder what happens in the summer when North America warms up to equal or even exceed Europe. Presumably the cooling effects of the topographically-forced atmospheric waves are offset by solar heating of the land? Meanwhile Europe continues to receive the moderate west-east flow off the Atlantic.
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