These Photos Of Niagara Falls Will Give You The Chills. No, Really.

The photos are unreal, but they're also cause for concern.

North America is in the midst of a historic cold snap, the likes of which hasn't been seen in nearly 25 years. While that means bundling up in extra layers and stunning photos of a nearly frozen Niagara Falls, it's also a sign of how weather extremes associated with climate change  are impacting our lives whether we like it or not. 

Though the photos, such as the one below, are a sight to behold, it's important to pay attention to what sudden cold snaps are telling us about our changing planet. According to National Geographic, though cold temperatures in winter is nothing new, the stretches of cold we are seeing are lasting longer. "The longevity of it is a bit unusual," explained Minnesota-based meteorologist Eric Holthaus. "It's just a really localized thing that's happening right now."


It's also crucial to note that this stretch of uncomfortably cold weather comes after the costliest hurricane season in the history of the United States, a batch of historically devastating wildfires ripped through northern California, and, most recently, record rapid snowfall blanketed parts of Pennsylvania.

Furthermore, while some parts of the country are colder than normal, other locales are experiencing higher than expected temperatures. As Holthaus put it, "We're having record lows and record highs at the same time."

And believe it or not, according to a study published in July, there's actually a link between warmer Arctic conditions and the colder temperatures we've been seeing in portions of North America. "By emitting greenhouse gasses, we're not just warming temperatures, we're perturbing the Earth's entire system," Carnegie Institution for Science researcher Anna Michalak told National Geographic, adding that Arctic melting has immediate impacts on weather conditions in lower latitudes.

In fact, as meteorologist Marshall Shepherd pointed out on Twitter, 2017 saw many more record high temperatures than record lows. More specifically, the United States experienced over three high temperature records for every one low temperature record.

So while some might think that the nation's cold snap disproves global warming, it's critical to note the phenomenon is actually characterized by weather extremes in both directions, not just unusually high temperatures. 

While there are still those who don't believe in global warming or even climate change in general, it's difficult to ignore the signs our planet is sending us, however breathtaking they may be.

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