I’ll get back to South Carolina-centric things in a moment, after a word or two about the UK blizzard.
Back in the 1980′s, new computer climate modeling suggested that the lessening of the differences in temperature between the equator and the poles would result in a weakening of the Gulf Stream and other deep ocean currents, leading to the cooling of areas like the UK. The Gulf Stream brings warm tropical water to the shores of the UK, making its local climate more tolerable than the similarly situated Labrador. The science has been out there for a while. I did a Science Fair project on this very topic in 1987. Anyway, these are long term trends and climate isn’t the same as weather, short attention spans notwithstanding.
There is evidence to suggest that the overall trend in the UK is actually getting warmer due to the effects of cyclical weather patterns like El Niño. The BBC has a fairly in-depth article on how “Arctic Oscillation” or the “opposing atmospheric pressure patterns in northern middle and high latitudes” works to produce abnormally cold regional weather. The January 5 article is called “The Arctic roots of upside down weather“. It ought to give anyone pause about their understanding of these complex systems. Climate change doubters should especially consider their nonchalance regarding humanity’s impact on such the dynamics of weather.
Nasa: What’s the Difference Between Weather and Climate? http://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/noaa-n/climate/climate_weather.html
American Institute of Physics: Ocean Currents and Climate: http://www.aip.org/history/climate/oceans.htm,
UK Guardian Comment: Britain’s cold snap does not prove climate science wrong: http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/blog/2010/jan/06/cold-snap-climate-sceptics
BBC on new oceanographic climate change research: ‘Scary’ climate message from past : http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/science/nature/8299426.stm
BBC Earthwatch: Arctic roots of ‘upside-down’ weather http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/thereporters/richardblack/2010/01/arctic_conditions_arctic_cause.html