Hoe komt het toch dat sommige delen van de aarde bedenkt zijn met vruchtbare regenwouden terwijl andere delen weer bedekt zijn met dorre woestijnen? Het komt allemaal door de hadleycel, genoemd naar George Hadley, een amateur meteoroloog uit de jaren 1700.
De winter lijkt terug in het zuiden van Frankrijk. De kust van de Middellandse Zee werd dinsdag geteisterd door hevige sneeuwval. Tienduizenden huishoudens kwamen zonder elektriciteit te zitten, nadat onder de sneeuwlast bezweken bomen op stroomleidingen waren gevallen.
De luchthaven van Perpignan is gesloten wegens sneeuwoverlast. De Franse Côte d’Azur, waar op 12 mei het Filmfestival van Cannes begint, werd ondertussen geteisterd door 6 meter hoge golven. Een vrouw brak daardoor haar been en er ontstond grote materiële schade.
The bitter winter afflicting much of the Northern Hemisphere is only the start of a global trend towards cooler weather that is likely to last for 20 or 30 years, say some of the world’s most eminent climate scientists.
Their predictions – based on an analysis of natural cycles in water temperatures in the Pacific and Atlantic oceans – challenge some of the global warming orthodoxy’s most deeply cherished beliefs, such as the claim that the North Pole will be free of ice in summer by 2013.
According to the US National Snow and Ice Data Centre in Colorado, Arctic summer sea ice has increased by 409,000 square miles, or 26 per cent, since 2007 – and even the most committed global warming activists do not dispute this.
The scientists’ predictions also undermine the standard climate computer models, which assert that the warming of the Earth since 1900 has been driven solely by man-made greenhouse gas emissions and will continue as long as carbon dioxide levels rise.
They say that their research shows that much of the warming was caused by oceanic cycles when they were in a ‘warm mode’ as opposed to the present ‘cold mode’.
This challenge to the widespread view that the planet is on the brink of an irreversible catastrophe is all the greater because the scientists could never be described as global warming ‘deniers’ or sceptics.
However, both main British political parties continue to insist that the world is facing imminent disaster without drastic cuts in CO2.
Last week, as Britain froze, Climate Change Secretary Ed Miliband maintained in a parliamentary answer that the science of global warming was ‘settled’.
Among the most prominent of the scientists is Professor Mojib Latif, a leading member of the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), which has been pushing the issue of man-made global warming on to the international political agenda since it was formed 22 years ago.
Prof Latif, who leads a research team at the renowned Leibniz Institute at Germany’s Kiel University, has developed new methods for measuring ocean temperatures 3,000ft beneath the surface, where the cooling and warming cycles start.
He and his colleagues predicted the new cooling trend in a paper published in 2008 and warned of it again at an IPCC conference in Geneva last September.
Last night he told The Mail on Sunday: ‘A significant share of the warming we saw from 1980 to 2000 and at earlier periods in the 20th Century was due to these cycles – perhaps as much as 50 per cent.
‘They have now gone into reverse, so winters like this one will become much more likely. Summers will also probably be cooler, and all this may well last two decades or longer.
At -21c UK is as cold as the South Pole: Biggest freeze for 30 years wreaks havoc (and there are 10 more days to come)
Deep freeze Britain was as cold as the South Pole as temperatures plummeted to a staggering minus 21c.
Amid increasing fears of an energy crisis, the country is locked in the biggest chill for nearly 30 years.
The mercury sank to minus 21.2C (minus 6.2F) in parts of the Scottish Highlands – considerably colder than some home freezers – with bitterly cold temperatures everywhere else on another day of widespread weather disruption.
Icy conditions have again left roads in a treacherous state and caused delays and cancellations for rail and air passengers. Hundreds of schools have also shut again today, resulting in a full week of closure for some children.
Last night forecasters gave a grim warning of worse to come, with strong winds blowing in to add wind chill to already below-zero temperatures which could continue for at least ten more days.
The prediction came as the worst cold spell since the winter of 1981-82 continued to cause chaos.
Factories had their energy supplies cut off as the severe weather and woefully fragile power infrastructure led to 1970s-style rationing;
Education chiefs warned that hundreds of thousands of children could be forced to miss exams;
Travellers faced a third day of delays as airlines struggled to recover from airport closures;
Ministers were criticised for not implementing a report after last winter’s big chill which could have left councils with increased gritting supplies;
Millions of workers were told they would lose a day’s pay if they did not get into work.