Whilst sea ice melting rates due to manmade global warming reach new record levels, less ice in the north affects the climate further south.
Several climate scientists think this will mean winters will be colder in countries such as Norway, and the rest of Europe.
How are these connected?
Professor Tore Furevik, director of the Center for Climate Dynamics at the Bjerknes Centre in Bergen, explains that, “less ice in the Arctic makes it more likely that the winters will be colder in times to come. The cold winters that we saw in 2009 and 2010, for example, seem to be linked to smaller ice spread in the Arctic.”
Little ice and a lot of warm seawater in the north mean sea ice will re-freeze later in the autumn. The air over the open ocean will be much warmer than where ice is, which gives higher air pressure at height. This in turn will weaken the jet streams that travel from west to east all the way around the Arctic, meaning it will take longer to travel by plane from Europe to America than the other way round, professor Furevik says.
The jet streams form a buffer between the cold air in the Arctic and warmer air masses further south in the northern hemisphere.
“The jet streams become weaker because of little ice in the Arctic. The buffer effect is reduced, meaning more air will flow down from the Arctic.”
And that puts Norway right in the middle to get cold air?
“That’s correct. This dynamic can give cold winters in Europe, parts of the US, and China. Typically, the cold periods will be in December and January,” concludes professor Furevik. More on the Arctic: