Monday, February 24, 2014
Why We Can Blame A Warm Arctic For This Winter’s Icy Chill
Arctic amplification is affecting the jet stream and letting weather systems persist longer, atmospheric scientist says
by Sarah Zielinski
Warm weather thousands of miles away would seem an unlikely cause of the United Kingdom’s freakishly wet winter or the bone-deep chillexperienced this year by the eastern United States. But a warming Arctic can be blamed for both, said Rutgers University atmospheric scientist Jennifer Francis at the recent AAAS Annual Meeting in Chicago, Illinois.
“It’s because the pattern this winter has been basically stuck in once place ever since early December,” Francis said. And the pattern—which has included cold, cold temperatures in the eastern United States, for instance—has been stuck because of the Arctic.
Back in 1896, the Swedish physicist Svante Arrhenius first calculated [pdf] how pumping carbon dioxide into the atmosphere would warm the planet through the greenhouse effect. That warming, he wrote, would be most pronounced in the Arctic regions, a phenomenon known as Arctic (or polar) amplification. And it is now able to be seen above the noise of the world’s weather—below is a NASA animation of temperature differences compared to averages, from 1950 through 2013…
(read more: Smithsonian Magazine)