Arctic Melt Down Is Bringing Harder Winters and Permanently Altering Weather Patterns

Last year’s cold and snowy winter directly connected to warmer Arctic new research reveals

By Stephen Leahy

OSLO, 15 June 2010 (IPS)

Last winter’s big snowfall and cold temperatures in the eastern United States and Europe were likely caused by the loss of Arctic sea ice, researchers concluded at the International Polar Year Oslo Science Conference in Norway in June.

Climate change has warmed the entire Arctic region, melting 2.5 million square kilometres of sea ice, and that, paradoxically, is producing colder and snowier winters for Europe, Asia and parts of North America.

“The exceptional cold and snowy winter of 2009-2010 in Europe, eastern Asia and eastern North America is connected to unique physical processes in the Arctic,” said James Overland of the NOAA/Pacific Marine Environmental Laboratory in the United States.

In future, cold and snowy winters will be the rule rather than the exception” in these regions, Overland told IPS.

[[UPDATE Dec 29 2010 РWinter of 2010-11 appears to follow same pattern, see new post with northern hemisphere temp map for 20 Dec:  Arctic Hothouse Turns Europe into an Icebox]]

Scientists have been surprised by the rapid warming of the Arctic, where annual temperatures have increased two to three times faster than the global average. In one part of the Arctic, over the Barents and Karas Seas north of Scandinavia, average annual temperatures are now 10 degrees C higher than they were in 1990.

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Overland explains the warming of the Arctic as the result of a combination of climate change, natural variability, loss of sea ice reflectivity, ocean heat storage and changing wind patterns, which has disrupted the stability of the Arctic climate system. In just 30 years, all that extra heat has shrunk the Arctic’s thick blanket of ice by 2.5 million square kilometres – an area equivalent to more than one quarter the size of the continental U.S.

The changes in the Arctic are now irreversible, he said. Continue reading

The Arctic — The Earth’s Freezer — Is Defrosting With Dire Results

Iceberg in Glacier Strait, Nunavut, Canada, Image credit- Sandy Briggs.By Stephen Leahy

GENEVA, Sep 2 (IPS)

The rapidly warming Arctic region is destabilising Earth’s climate in ways science is just beginning to comprehend.

The entire world is being affected, and without urgent action to cut emissions, a too-warm Arctic could trigger catastrophic, irreversible climate change, top scientists say in a report released Wednesday in Geneva.

“It is crucial to know the full consequences of the Arctic warming, and this is an unprecedented review of the latest science,” said Martin Sommerkorn, an Arctic researcher and senior climate change advisor to World Wildlife Fund International.

“Simply put, if we do not keep the Arctic cold enough, people across the world will suffer the effects,” Sommerkorn told IPS.

Sea level rise of more than one metre, flooding affecting one quarter of the world’s population, and extreme global weather changes are on the way at the current pace of unchecked carbon emissions, the “Arctic Climate Feedbacks: Global Implications” report warns.

A warming Arctic has far wider and more serious consequences than previously believed based on the latest science of the past three years, including the very recent research from International Polar Year 2008-2009.

“There is a large potential that a warming Arctic will make climate change far worse,” said Sommerkorn, who acted as editor of the report written by 10 of the world’s leading climate scientists. Continue reading