Monday, June 14, 2010

A Future of Harsh Winters Could Rule Mid-Lats

Despite global warming and climate change, recent statements by NOAA's Pacific Marine Environmental Laboratory (PMEL) point towards a future of more cold and snowy winters (in other words, the potential for patterns to evolve similar to that of this past winter) for Europe, eastern Asia and eastern North America.

Why the claim?
El Niño and the North Atlantic Oscillation (NAO) aside, the exceptional cold and snowy winter of this past year in the above-mentioned regions, is connected to unique physical processes in the Arctic. The Arctic is warming more than twice as fast as the rest of the planet. This is known as Arctic amplification, and these changes are happening a great deal faster than the scientific community expected.

It seems a warmer Arctic climate and a loss of sea ice is influencing the air pressure at the North Pole and shifting wind patterns, allowing
for the disruption of the memory and stability of the Arctic climate system. This will be an important driver of major change in the world's climate system in the years to come and will likely be seen first across the mid-latitudes.

Experts say that given the recent reduction of the area of multi-year sea ice and reduced ice thickness, it is unlikely that the Arctic can return to its previous condition.