STATE COLLEGE, PA May 26, 2004 While AccuWeather.com meteorologists are looking forward to seeing The Day After Tomorrow for its special effects and entertainment value, the "science" behind the film can be summed up in one word impossible.
"Based on the previews, The Day After Tomorrow seems like fun, exciting, great summer entertainment, but it definitely should not be considered realistic," said Dr. Joe Sobel, Expert Senior Meteorologist and Senior Vice President of AccuWeather.com.
The film shows an ice age caused by the effects of global warming enveloping the world within days, something that Dr. Sobel states is impossible. "There is one climate change theory that states that the melting of Greenland's ice fields would result in dumping of large amounts of cold, fresh water into the Atlantic Ocean," he said. "This would disrupt the Gulf Stream and possibly lead to an ice age in eastern North America and Europe."
"But even if this were to occur, the effects would occur over decades or centuries, not days like in the movie," Dr. Sobel added.
Dr. Sobel also stated specific examples of events in the movie that are impossible based on scientific fact, such as:
One single storm cannot change the world's climate.
Polar ice caps cannot melt fast enough to cause a 100-foot tidal wave that hits New York City.
A wall of water 100 feet deep cannot freeze solid within minutes or even within 24 hours.
As far as the real world is concerned, Dr. Sobel notes that global warming over the last century has resulted in an increase in temperatures worldwide of only about 1 degree Fahrenheit. "Some of the variation may be due to human activity, but the majority of it, and perhaps the vast majority of it, is undoubtedly the result of a natural cycle," he said.
In fact, Dr. Sobel points out that there were scientists who were concerned during the 1970s that the extremely cold winters in the United States during the mid-to-late 1970s were an indication of an impending ice age. "According to those theories, we should be in a full-fledged ice age already," he said.
Dr. Sobel said that such theories are comparable to past concerns raised by credible sources. "You can go back to the beginning of written history and find ideas that look rather outrageous today," he said. "For example, the belief that civil war battles caused it to rain, or that the sun revolved around the earth."
While the science is dubious, AccuWeather.com meteorologists are planning on enjoying the movie as summer entertainment. "I think The Day After Tomorrow can be compared to Jurassic Park," Dr. Sobel said. "The special effects look amazing, but the probability of an ice age enveloping the globe within days is as likely as someone stocking an island with thousands of dinosaurs."
Weather forecasts for the day after tomorrow, as well as any of the next 15 days, are available for any zip code in the United States and any place in the world at www.accuweather.com.
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