Snow in Buenos Aires: Was it Global Warming?


(Picture: snow falls over the obelisk, in the center of Buenos Aires. From Clarin.) The last anniversary of Argentine independence, July 9th, came with a surprise: for the first time in almost 90 years, snow fell in Buenos Aires and the city's suburbs. While mostly everybody was thrilled with the spectacle, we (and few media) wondered about how dangerous the phenomenon could be. Fortunately, local specialists explained this was an isolated phenomenon, but warned about the consequences of a changing climate. Argentine meteorologist Osvaldo Canziani, president of one of the sections in the Intergovernmental Panel for Climate Change (IPCC), explained to Clarin newspaper, "warming can produce cooling, but in this case it is not global warming the cause of this storm". The specialist continued: "In September 1951 I worked in the international airport and we had a similar problem, of more intensity though it did not snow: a polar air mass from Antarctica invades the South of South America...."This is an anomaly, as usually cold air comes from the Pacific and not the Antarctica, and in this case, it happened while in Buenos Aires there was enough cloudiness and the floor temperature was cold enough (0 degrees at 3pm) to produce the spectacle".

According to Canziani, this spectacle is of a winter colder than the usual ones, but not a cyclic phenomenon as "the Antarctica is a closed system that only opens itself sporadically".

"It does not have to do with climate change, though climate change could have cooperated somehow by increasing humidity".

Finally, the meteorologist said "we are though in the middle of a changing climate, and we'll have to see more attention coming from the government to these issues".

Mario Nuñez, director of the Investigation Center for Sea and Atmosphere of the national university, wrote in a column in the country's biggest newspaper, "this is already one of the coldest and raw winters of our history. The snow was a product of an Antarctic air mass that did not find resistance in its advance over the continent. That, and the humidity conditions, caused the snow".

"We can't attribute the snow to global warming. More than that, we can speak about 'extreme phenomena' that happen more often. Some examples are the droughts, flooding or the snow at unusual places that accompany the global warming process".

Besides that, the scientist did not hesitate also in bringing the theme to the table: "we are registering a climate change process in the planet. Right now we have values that escape the average of the last 30 years". ::Osvaldo Canziani at Clarin (in Spanish, our quotes are from the radio interview) ::Mario Nuñez column.