By Ben Geman - 02/15/10 04:59 PM EST
A top Obama administration scientist on Monday struck back at climate skeptics who claim that record snowstorms this winter have undercut evidence of global warming.
“It is important that people recognize that weather is not the same thing as climate,” said Jane Lubchenco, head of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
Lubchenco, speaking on NPR’s “Diane Rehm Show,” said the planet is warming but that weather is variable. The snowy weather, Lubchenco said, “is not a contradiction and it is not really unexpected.”
She said the heavy snowfall that has blanketed the capital stems from the convergence of two factors: El Nino sending wet, stormy weather across the south and into the east coast, and Arctic Oscillation patterns sending cold air south.