Melting Arctic gives cold spring

Apr 22, 2013 12:00 AM

The unprecedented melting of Arctic sea ice is the reason for this year’s extraordinary cold spring weather in northern Europe and North America, researchers say.

A massive high pressure has been stable over major parts of the northern hemisphere weeks longer than normal, while the traditional warm winds from the Atlantic Sea have been absent. The consequence has been temperatures far below the seasonal average.

The reason for the trend is the powerful warming and subsequent ice melting in the Arctic, researchers believe.

“New studies indicate that changes in the Arctic sea ice affect the winds and make high and low pressure periods stay longer over the area”, Rasmus E. Benestad from the Norwegian Meteological Institute says to newspaper Aftenposten. Refering to American researchers, Benestad says the higher temperatures in the Arctic weaken regional jet currents and consequently make cold air spread to sub-Arctic areas.

While northern Europe this spring has experienced cold and dry weather, North America has had low temperatures and late snow. Figures from the Norwegian Meteological Institute show that southern Norway in the period January-March had average temperatures between 2-4 degrees below normal. Northern Norway, meanwhile, had temperatures significantly above the average and snow and rain in abundance.

In an article focusing on weather changes at the Arctic archipelago of Svalbard, researchers Ellen Øseth and Ketil Isaksen conclude that the Arctic faces more rains and warmer temperatures. For people at Svalbard, the year 2012 was an eyeopener. On the 30thJanuary that year, the town of Ny-Ålesund got an unprecedented 116 mm of rains, while the average temperature for the month was as much as 11,9 degrees above normal.

As previously reported by BarentsObserver, the Russian Ministry of Emergency Situations forecasts an average temperature rise in the Arctic of around 7 degrees this century. The ministry warns of potential dramatic natural disasters caused by global warming in Russia’s northern territories.

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