Climate scientists find more evidence linking Arctic warming to jet stream movement

June 8, 2015 by Dory Devlin, Rutgers University
A chart showing the increase in the frequency of highly amplified jet-stream patterns, which scientists believe is related to extreme weather events. Credit: Jennifer Francis

Findings from a new Rutgers University climate change study support previous research that shows a link between the rapidly warming Arctic and an increase in extreme weather events.

Using self-organizing maps – statistical tools to help identify characteristic in a data set – Rutgers climate scientists Jennifer Francis and Natasa Skific studied 48 years worth of daily atmospheric information to detect weather patterns that occur repeatedly.

The patterns they found validated previous study findings that the polar jet stream has been meandering more north and south in the past two decades rather than traveling in a relatively straight path. Scientists are studying the relation of changing jet stream patterns and Arctic warming to .

"When the jet stream has large northward bulges (called ridges), strong Arctic warming intensifies the ridge, causing it to become more persistent," Francis said. These large waves have become more frequent in recent years and many studies, including these two from Rutgers, link them to events, such as the severe cold spells in the northern hemisphere this winter, the enduring drought in the west, and major storms like Hurricane Sandy in 2012.

"The analysis we just did with the self-organizing maps revealed that, yes indeed, we see the wavy jet stream patterns are becoming more amplified," Francis said.

The study, "Evidence Linking Rapid Arctic Warming to Mid-latitude Weather Patterns," was published June 1 in the science journal, Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society. The data also allowed researchers to determine whether the increased waviness is because high-amplitude patterns are happening more often, or if each of the characteristic patterns is becoming wavier. Francis said the second effect is what is occurring, "because the warming Arctic is elongating those ridges."

That, Francis said, is contributing to the extended drought problems in California and other western states, as well as the persistent snowy weather patterns in the Northeast this winter. "When those ridges get stronger, they become much more persistent," she said.

The study notes that while it is difficult to say with certainty that the Arctic's amplified sensitivity to temperature change is the cause of any specific extreme weather event, "these are the types of phenomena that are expected to occur more often as the world continues to warm and the Artic continues to lose its ice." In the past 30 years, the volume of Arctic sea ice has declined by about 60 percent.

"These changes in circulation are expected to lead to persistent that are known to cause ," the paper says. "As emissions of greenhouse gases continue unabated, therefore, the continued amplification of Arctic warming should favor an increased occurrence of extreme events caused by prolonged weather conditions."

Explore further: New evidence links Arctic warming with severe weather

More information: Evidence linking rapid Arctic warming to mid-latitude weather patterns, DOI: 10.1098/rsta.2014.0170

Related Stories

New evidence links Arctic warming with severe weather

May 20, 2015

Professor Edward Hanna and PhD student Richard Hall, from the University of Sheffield's Department of Geography, are part of a select group of international climate scientists investigating links between Arctic climate change ...

Recommended for you

Fish-inspired material changes color using nanocolumns

March 20, 2019

Inspired by the flashing colors of the neon tetra fish, researchers have developed a technique for changing the color of a material by manipulating the orientation of nanostructured columns in the material.

6 comments

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

Water_Prophet
1.4 / 5 (9) Jun 08, 2015
What is important are the root causes:
What drives the oceans?
What (used to) prevent Artic warming due to these things?

That there is a correlation is not really news worthy-it's always happening, what is causing the newsworthy change? is the question.

It is actually an almost mystical statement about how much mother Earth loves us, (I know, I know) that these currents still "beneficently" act to keep the Earth as cool as it is.
Mike_Massen
4.6 / 5 (10) Jun 08, 2015
Water_Prophet asks
..What drives the oceans?
Sol's TSI, Its ALL heat flow moderated by radiative forcing
What (used to) prevent Artic warming due to these things?
Heat balance.

Water_Prophet unscientific waffle
That there is a correlation is not really news worthy-it's always happening, what is causing the newsworthy change? is the question
Whether or not its news it IS of import as it adds to initial, quiescent & transitional information modelling.

Water_Prophet claims
It is actually an almost mystical statement about how much mother Earth loves us, (I know, I know) that these currents still "beneficently" act to keep the Earth as cool as it is
No. Heat balance !
Pure & simple, fortunate we have large reserves of water/ice for time being

Water_Prophet STILL has not addressed key Physics of why he claim this experimentally proven equation is 'wrong' ?
https://en.wikipe...transfer

Physics !
butterflybluelu
2 / 5 (4) Jun 08, 2015
The totality of Tar Sands in Canada is one massive heat island. Black pools of waste materials gather heat. Tar sands refining ads to it plus we have massive areas deforested. As wind passes here the hot thermals push everything upwards rapidly. In response it creates opposing thermals that blow radically south bounds and from there we have dramatic change in the behavior of global thermal patterns. It's a ripple effect that impacts global flight patters. It used to be that DC 10 planes had no problem crossing the Atlantic. Now they must refill in the maritimes more because the headwinds are too strong. They are running out of fuel faster. The winds from London to US caught hold of a one plane that made the trip to North America one hour ahead of schedule. It was like riding on a tsunami of wind flow. There is uncertainty for DC 10 fuel volumes which is why folks should take a larger plane if they want to assure less delay traveling across the ocean these days.
leetennant
4.6 / 5 (9) Jun 08, 2015
What is important are the root causes:
What drives the oceans?
What (used to) prevent Artic warming due to these things?

That there is a correlation is not really news worthy-it's always happening, what is causing the newsworthy change? is the question.

It is actually an almost mystical statement about how much mother Earth loves us, (I know, I know) that these currents still "beneficently" act to keep the Earth as cool as it is.


Such good questions. I mean, it's not like we have a mechanism that's experimentally verified. Nor did we make predictions on the result of a change in an aspect of that mechanism (rising CO2 emissions) that is now being backed up by observational evidence. I wonder what could be going on? Ummm... it's a stumper.
Eddy Courant
1 / 5 (1) Jun 10, 2015
Well that settles it then.
Captain Stumpy
5 / 5 (3) Jun 10, 2015
What is important are the root causes
@ALCHIE/prophet stultitiae & socks et al
we already found a basic cause driving the problem, as i've already shown you time and again in studies...
in fact, Francis (the linked study) is finding substantial evidence supporting her initial paper (Francis/Vavrus et al) which i also linked to you time and again

funny thing is: you've NEVER been able to provide ANY refute (other than personal conjecture or unsubstantiated claims based upon your Dunning-Kruger)
It is actually an almost mystical statement about how much mother Earth loves us, (I know, I know) that these currents still "beneficently" act to keep the Earth as cool as it is
and you wonder why i call you scientifically illiterate?

you are mixing religion, faith and science
your gut is not "substantiating evidence" ... nor is your conjecture about math, physics or heat/thermodynamics

IOW- more unsubstantiated conjecture means ya still got squat for evidence

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.