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Thor and Global Warming

Updated on June 27, 2019

The Mighty Thor



In Norse mythology, Thor is well recognized as the god of thunder. Perhaps lesser known, he was also the god of weather. Thor is often described as carrying a hammer in one hand and lightning bolts in the other, or simply carrying a hammer that can cast lightning bolts. Given that one of the storms of winter 2014 and 2015 was named after Thor, it seems somewhat appropriate to take some time out and talk about things like thunder snow, global warming, and offer some speculation on how both might be resulting from the same effect.mythology

Winter Storm Thor arrived in the winter of 2015, early in March. It was the twentieth named winter storm of the season. The 2015 season set records for winter snowfall amounts in many places, set records for consecutive days of cold weather in others, and in general was a nuisance or worse to many people across the United States.

Winter Storm Thor was just one of many storms that year.

Melting Dry Ice

Global Warming

With all this snow, many people have begun to grump about how the scientists have it wrong. They claim the earth is not getting warmer, and that the snows of this winter are proof of that. In the past fifty years or so, the arguments for climate change have wavered between those who argue for global cooling, those who argue for global warming, and those who say it is all part of the cycle. The confusion is easy to understand, and even easier to understand if you have ever watched a block of dry ice melt.

This simple experiment is to take a block of dry ice and set it down somewhere warm to thaw out. The experiment seems to work best if the block of dry ice is set in a fairly moist place.

When first set down, you can see thin vapor rising off the dry ice. Those vapors quickly spread and interact with the moist air around the block to form small airborne crystals of frost. The small heavier than air frost crystals fall to the surface around the block of dry ice. The frost crystals do not form a real smooth boundary around the dry ice, but instead seem to cluster in small patches that look like snow. The look is slow to form, but chaotic with respect to how it looks overall as the block melts. If one were trying to predict what it looks like, they would not make any attempt to be exact, but instead would say "expect something that looks like snow to form around the block".

After we watch this happen, one wonders whether we should expect polar ice cap melting on planet earth to show the same effect. The sad thing is that watching dry ice melt will not be sufficient to settle the discussion. Those who support the notion of global warming may point to this effect and say "expect to see snow". Those who support the notion of global cooling will also continue to say "expect to see snow". Those who believe it is nothing more than the ongoing seasonal cycle may likely stare in annoyance at both and say "in winter, expect to see snow".

Worse, the whole point to the debate seems to be that the scientists need to justify why they should continue to be paid to make claims that the available evidence supports their arguments one way or the other. The discussions have even recently made it into the Halls of Congress, where some might claim snowballs are deemed especially appropriate.

Hammer Cloud

On a normal summer day, this was the sort of cloud that meant somebody was going to get stormed on.
On a normal summer day, this was the sort of cloud that meant somebody was going to get stormed on. | Source

Cantore Thundersnow Montage! - #ItsAmazingOutThere

Thunder Snow

There are some early signs that a thunderstorm might be about to strike. One early sign is to watch for certain types of cloud formations in the sky. When I was a child, I watched the sky a lot. Usually I was looking for airplanes, jets, or UFOs. When looking at the sky a lot, you also notice that clouds have all sorts of different appearances. One of the most notable was a formation my Dad told me was called a hammer cloud. He was from the mid-west. The formation was named that way because seeing one of these clouds usually meant someone was going to get a thunderstorm, and maybe even a tornado. Modern meteorologists will explain that this particular type of cloud formation is caused by upper level winds that are moving at a different speed and direction than lower level winds, while at the same time cloud moisture is rising up in the atmosphere. That sounds impressive. To a little kid though, it is easier to imagine Thor carrying a cloud hammer.

I still watch the sky. It is a bit more active to occasionally glance at the sky and guess the weather while outside than it is to sit inside and watch the news for the weather forecast.

In winter, thunder and lightning during a snowstorm is cause for excitement. Rapid thunder and lightning while standing outside in a snowstorm can cause even those well educated about the weather to run around in childish glee. We call it "Thunder Snow".

But in the end, the cause of the thunder and lightning is the same. The simplest way to think of it is "Something disturbs the clouds".


UnderDog and Thunder Snow

Back when I was a kid, one of the favorite cartoon shows we liked to watch was a show called Underdog. Underdog had a rhyming theme song. The original tune is on You-Tube. It actually began as a radio show theme song prior to becoming a television cartoon.

If you really like thunder snow, perhaps you would like to try singing the lyrics below to the tune of the UnderDog theme song.

There’s no need to fear! Thunder snow is here!

when weather-change in this world appear
and bring the storms that we would fear 
and frighten all who see or hear 
the cry goes up both far and near 

for Thunder snow! Thunder snow! Thunder snow! Thunder snow!

speed of lightning, roar of thunder 
scaring all who stand down under 

Thunder snow! Thunder snow!

when in this world of storms of snow
and those whose claims are that we owe
for climate change and what they know
to right this wrong with lightning glow

cries Thunder snow! Thunder snow! Thunder snow! Thunder snow!

speed of lightning, roar of thunder 
scaring all who stand down under 

Thunder snow! Thunder snow!

If these lyrics prove to be exceptionally popular, they may find their way to the folks at the Weather Channel. Who would like to see Jim Cantore sing Thunder Snow to the tune of Underdog?

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