Why Last Winter Was So Hard

The Inter Press Service (IPS) has reported that researchers at the recent International Polar Year Oslo Science Conference in Norway concluded last winter’s large snowfall and cold temperatures in Europe were likely caused by the loss of Arctic sea ice.

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

James Overland of the US’ NOAA/Pacific Marine Environmental Laboratory told IPS, “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” and that, “In future, cold and snowy winters will be the rule rather than the exception” in those regions.

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.  James Overland said the changes in the Arctic are now irreversible.

Arctic Sea Ice Extent Graph

Arctic Sea Ice Extent Graph - National Snow and Ice Data Center (NSIDC)

Arctic Sea Ice Extent

Arctic Sea Ice Extent - National Snow and Ice Data Center (NSIDC)

David M. Davison

One Comment to “Why Last Winter Was So Hard”

  1. The Climate Progress blog site has written a piece (“Research says big snow storms not inconsistent with — and may be ampliflied by — a warming planet”) about the large snowfall in certain areas:

    James Overland’s comments are mentioned in the blog and followed by:
    “Now that is an a strong and remarkable claim. If Overland is saying that the sharp drop in summer sea ice in recent years affects the autumn and winter Arctic weather in a unique way, then it may mean that studies that are largely based on data from before, say, 2005 — like the GRL study — are somewhat moot or at least open to reinterpretation.
    “I have queried Overland about this and will report back if he responds.”

    David M. Davison

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