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It’s cold outside! Does that disprove global warming?

No. A single cold snap in the US can’t disprove global warming any more than a record heat wave in Australia can prove that it’s happening.

Global warming refers to the rise in the average temperature of the Earth’s climate system. The Earth is a big place. It can be cold in one part and warm in another. The relevant metric here is the long-term trends for the whole planet.

It’s also worth noting that global warming won’t abolish cold weather — at least not anytime soon. Many climate models suggest we’ll still see record cold snaps in the United States as the planet heats up. They’ll just become less frequent over time — while record heat waves will become increasingly common. Like so:

Record high and record low temperatures set in the US each decade:

Ratio of daily highs to daily lows in the U.S.

That’s a picture of a nation that’s clearly getting warmer and warmer overall — but still experiences plenty of cold.

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