Severe and erratic weather patterns across the world could be down to increasing air temperatures in the Arctic, according to new research.
More intense storms and cold snaps in northwestern Europe could be caused by the North pole warming faster than anywhere else in the world.
This change, along with greater rainfall in the region, is causing physical changes like ocean circulation which are destabilising a wide variety of localised weather effects across the world.
Experts say fluctuations in the Arctic could be why countries in Europe, North America and Asia are experiencing the effects of climate change such as more severe storms and cold snaps in northwest Europe.
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Disruption of the ocean circulation caused by increasing temperatures in the Arctic can destabilise climate and lead to the strengthening of storms, say scientists
Scientists from Copenhagen and Alaska examined data from 1971 to 2017 for nine weather indicators.
These include air temperature, permafrost, snow cover, sea ice, land ice, wildfires, tundra, hydroclimatology, carbon cycling and terrestrial ecosystems.
Data for each of these showed a direct correlation with rising temperatures in the Arctic region, which is warming almost five times more than the rest of the planet.
Author of the study and chief scientist Dr John Walsh at the University of Alaska Fairbanks’s International Arctic Research Centre, said the findings were even more strongly linked to temperature rises in the Arctic than expected.
Warming conditions in the Arctic is causing more wildfires to start across the world because there is more chance of lightening with the higher temperature and rainfall
He said: ‘Warming is stronger in the Arctic than elsewhere through a process called Arctic amplification.
‘Cold season warming [in the Arctic] is nearly five times faster than that of the Northern Hemisphere.
‘This suggests that it could be the driving factor of widespread changes to weather systems across the world.’
Dr Walsh added: ‘All the variables are connected with temperature. All components of the Arctic system are involved in this change.
Researchers believe the study that shows the importance of changing climate patterns in the Arctic will help further investigation into the North Pole’s role in global climate change.
The full paper was published in the journal Environmental Research Letters.
HOW DO RISING TEMPERATURES IN THE ARCTIC CREATE COLD WEATHER IN EUROPE?
As long ago as 1973, a study suggested that an ice-free Arctic Ocean could make regions further south colder.
That ‘warm Arctic, cold continent’ (WACC) pattern is sometimes dubbed ‘wacc-y’ or ‘wacky’ among climate scientists.
When unusually warm air enters the region, it melts ice covering the waters of the Arctic Ocean.
This ice normally serves as an insulator, stopping the flow of thermal energy from the water’s surface into the atmosphere.
Without the ice in place, the oceans can transfer a huge amount of this energy into the air above.
This in turn increases air temperatures and this warm air rises up into the upper atmosphere, where it reaches the jet stream.
Jet streams are fast flowing, narrow currents of air that carry warm and cold air across the planet, much like the currents of a river.
They cover thousands of miles as they meander near the tropopause layer of our atmosphere.
The strongest jet streams are the polar jets, found 30,000 to 39,000 ft (5.7 to 7.4 miles/ 9 to 12 km) above sea level at the north and south pole.
In the case of the Arctic polar jet this fast moving band of air sits between the cold Arctic air to the north and the warm, tropical air to the south.
When uneven masses of hot and cold meet, the resulting pressure difference causes winds to form.
During winter, the jet stream tends to be at its strongest because of the marked temperature contrast between the warm and cold air.
The bigger the temperature difference between the Arctic and tropical air mass, the stronger the winds of the jet stream become.
The Arctic polar jet, which can reach speeds of up 200mph (320kph), flows over the middle to northern latitudes of North America, Europe, and Asia and their intervening oceans.
It moves from East to West, although its exact route varies and can be affected by various factors.
With the ice melt in the Arctic and the introduction of warmer air, the route of the jet stream becomes wavier and more erratic.
That means that the colder air it carries from the Arctic can penetrate further south and warmer airs from the tropics is carried further north.
If the jet stream’s meander buckles south of the UK, it attracts cold air from the Arctic.
Conversely when it swings north, it sucks warm air from the tropics.