Arctic storms to decrease with global warming: study

September 15, 2010
The Kongsbreen glacier taken in the Norvegian fjord Kongsfjord off the coast of Ny-Alesund in June 2010. Brief but vicious Arctic storms known as polar lows are likely to become much less frequent as global warming intensifies, scientists in Britain determined on Wednesday.

Brief but vicious Arctic storms known as polar lows are likely to become much less frequent as global warming intensifies, scientists in Britain determined on Wednesday.

Polar lows brew in ice-free high latitudes in the North Atlantic in winter and can swiftly become a hazard for shipping and oil rigs.

The number of these storms averaged 36 per season in the 20th century, climatologists at the University of Reading said.

By 2100, this tally would fall to between 17 and 23 per season, depending on concentrations of heat-trapping in the air.

"There would be roughly only half as many in future," Matthias Zahn, of the university's Environmental Systems Science Centre, told AFP.

The simulation is based on three scenarios for greenhouse-gas emissions used by the UN's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).

The reason for the fall lies in a change in the difference in temperature between the ocean's surface and the mid-atmosphere.

This differential is what causes a polar low to develop. Changing the difference hampers the storm's formation and intensification, according to the paper, released by Nature, the British science journal.

Zahn said further work was underway to simulate polar lows in the northern Pacific.

Explore further: On the trail of polar lows

Related Stories

On the trail of polar lows

December 12, 2008

This has made it possible to determine, for the first time, the frequency of such polar lows in the past.

Scientists want polar bear protection

June 20, 2006

A U.S. climate researcher is leading a team of 30 North American and European scientists in urging the polar bear be listed as a threatened species.

Dirty snow may warm Arctic as much as greenhouse gases

June 6, 2007

The global warming debate has focused on carbon dioxide emissions, but scientists at UC Irvine have determined that a lesser-known mechanism -- dirty snow -- can explain one-third or more of the Arctic warming primarily attributed ...

Recommended for you

Experiments call origin of Earth's iron into question

February 21, 2017

New research from The University of Texas at Austin reveals that the Earth's unique iron composition isn't linked to the formation of the planet's core, calling into question a prevailing theory about the events that shaped ...

Study finds 6,600 spills from fracking in just four states

February 21, 2017

Each year, 2 to 16 percent of hydraulically fractured oil and gas wells spill hydrocarbons, chemical-laden water, hydraulic fracturing fluids and other substances, according to a new study.The analysis, which appears Feb. ...

Impacts of mass coral die-off on Indian Ocean reefs revealed

February 21, 2017

Warming seawaters, caused by climate change and extreme climatic events, threaten the stability of tropical coral reefs, with potentially devastating implications for many reef species and the human communities that reefs ...

Selenium deficiency promoted by climate change

February 20, 2017

Selenium is an essential micronutrient obtained from dietary sources such as cereals. The selenium content of foodstuffs largely depends on concentrations in the soil: previous studies have shown that low selenium concentrations ...


Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.