Severe Weather May be Linked to Arctic Climate Warming

First Posted: May 21, 2015 07:58 AM EDT

Could Arctic warming cause severe weather? Scientists have taken a closer look at the links between climate change and extreme weather and have found that the warmer temperatures may be impacting countries such as the UK and the U.S.

Arctic temperatures are increasing two to three times faster than those at the mid-latitudes. In fact, some scientists have suggested that warming Arctic temperatures contribute to weaker upper level westerly winds and a wavier jet stream. This wavier path may have caused cold weather conditions to stall over the eastern seaboard and midwest United States during recent winters.

"Our work presents tantalizing new evidence of links between global warming, which is enhanced in high northern latitudes, and recent extreme winter weather events in the UK and further afield, as well as a timely review of much recent literature which has appeared in the important field of research," said Edward Hanna, one of the researcher, in a news release. "However, since the climate system is highly complex, many missing parts of the puzzle remain and much further work needs to be done."

The researchers noted that there is increased variability of the jet stream in winter and high pressure over Greenland, which has given more variable UK winters in the last few years. This includes the exceptionally stormy winter of 2013 to 2014, which could have been partly influenced by climate change in the Arctic.

Currently, the researchers hope to further investigate the meandering jet stream and the connection between the warmer Arctic and negative phase of an index showing the dominant pattern of sea level air pressure in the Arctic. New studies on the changing Arctic together with additional Arctic observations will improve the ability to make forecasts for the mid-latitudes.

The findings are published in the Journal of Climate.

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