Monday, August 18, 2014

Study Finds Possible Link Between Arctic Change and Extreme Mid-Latitude Weather

Mosaic of images of the Arctic by MODIS. (Credit: NASA) Click to enlarge.
A team of researchers with members from Europe and the U.S. has found a possible link between Arctic amplification and severe weather in the northern mid-latitude parts of the planet.  In their paper published in the journal Nature Geoscience, the researchers describe how they conducted a review of the findings of other researchers looking for a connection between Arctic warming and extreme weather events and what they found as a result.

For the past several years planetary researchers have begun to wonder if Arctic warming is causing changes to weather in the northern mid-latitudes.  They note, as just one example, the exceedingly harsh 2013/14 winter—very low temperatures in parts of North America and well above average rainfall in parts of Europe.

Scientists have grown concerned as measurements have indicated that the Arctic is warming faster than expected—twice as fast as the rest of the planet (Arctic amplification), which means snow and ice is melting faster than expected as well.  During the same time period, the mid-latitudes have experienced some unusual weather—stronger storms, colder winters and hotter summers.  Several groups have looked to see if a discernible link between the two trends could be found.  And while no single team has been able to find concrete evidence, many have found what appears to an indirect link.  In this new effort, the researchers suggest that such studies, when looked at as a single entity, provide a strong case for such a link, and they even suggest how: changes to the jet stream, to storm tracks and to planetary waves and their associated energy propagation.

Taken together, the researchers report, the data indicates that a weaker temperature gradient between the Arctic region and the northern latitudes, is leading to changes in the atmosphere in the northern hemisphere and because of that, unpredictable changes to weather patterns.

Study Finds Possible Link Between Arctic Change and Extreme Mid-Latitude Weather

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