Warm Arctic means colder, snowier winters in northeastern US, study says

March 13, 2018, Rutgers University
Tree crashes wall in Newton, MA (next door to first author's home) after 26 cm of wet snow falls during latest Nor'easter (March 8, 2018) lashing the Northeastern US. Snowfall totals exceeded 60 cm in the New York City metro area and nearly 1 meter in western New England. 1 million customers remain without power and has caused disruption to travel across the country. Latest Nor'easter follows just days after another extreme Nor'easter that brought over a meter of snow to New York State, 93 mph wind gusts and severe coastal flooding. Credit: Judah Cohen

Scientists from Rutgers University-New Brunswick and Atmospheric and Environmental Research (AER) have linked the frequency of extreme winter weather in the United States to Arctic temperatures.

Their research was published today in Nature Communications.

"Basically, this confirms the story I've been telling for a couple of years now," said study co-author Jennifer Francis, research professor of marine and coastal sciences in Rutgers' School of Environmental and Biological Sciences. "Warm temperatures in the Arctic cause the jet stream to take these wild swings, and when it swings farther south, that causes cold air to reach farther south. These swings tend to hang around for awhile, so the we have in the eastern United States, whether it's cold or warm, tends to stay with us longer."

The research is timely given the extreme of 2017-2018, including record warm Arctic and low sea ice, record-breaking polar vortex disruption, record-breaking cold and disruptive snowfalls in the United States and Europe, severe "bomb cyclones" and costly nor'easters, said Judah Cohen, director of seasonal forecasting at AER and lead author of the study.

In their study, Cohen, Francis and AER's Karl Pfeiffer found that severe winter weather is two to four times more likely in the eastern United States when the Arctic is abnormally warm than when the Arctic is abnormally cold. Their findings also show that winters are colder in the northern latitudes of Europe and Asia when the Arctic is warm.

Paradoxically, the study shows that severe winter weather in the western United States is more likely when the Arctic is colder than normal.

The researchers found that when Arctic warming occurred near the surface, the connection to severe winter weather was weak. When the warming extended into the stratosphere, however, disruptions of the stratospheric polar vortex were likely. These disruptions usually cause severe winter weather in mid- to late winter and affect large metropolitan centers of the northeastern United States.

"Five of the past six winters have brought persistent cold to the eastern U.S. and warm, dry conditions to the West, while the Arctic has been off-the-charts warm," Francis said. "Our study suggests that this is no coincidence. Exactly how much the Arctic contributed to the severity or persistence of the pattern is still hard to pin down, but it's becoming very difficult to believe they are unrelated."

Explore further: Winter cold extremes linked to high-altitude polar vortex weakening

More information: Warm Arctic episodes linked with increased frequency of extreme winter weather in the United States, Nature Communications (2018). nature.com/articles/doi:10.1038/s41467-018-02992-9

Related Stories

Icy Europe, balmy North Pole: the world upside down

February 28, 2018

Not for the first time in recent years, Europe has descended into a deep freeze while the Arctic experiences record high temperatures, leaving scientists to ponder the role global warming may play in turning winter weather ...

What is the polar vortex?

December 15, 2016

The polar vortex is a large area of low pressure and cold air surrounding both of the Earth's poles. It ALWAYS exists near the poles, but weakens in summer and strengthens in winter. The term "vortex" refers to the counter-clockwise ...

Recommended for you

15 comments

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

tblakely1357
1.3 / 5 (15) Mar 13, 2018
Is GW an unfalsifiable theory?
thefurlong
4.8 / 5 (19) Mar 13, 2018
Is GW an unfalsifiable theory?

No. It is imminently falsifiable. Just show that average global temperatures have not been following an increasing trend. Or, if you understand that that's true, but doubt that people have an effect, show that the causal relationship between human burning of fossil fuels, and the rise in average global temperature is statistically insignificant.

A major stepping stone towards doing that is actually understanding what Climate Scientists actually claim, rather than what you think they claim.
thefurlong
4.7 / 5 (15) Mar 13, 2018
Is GW an unfalsifiable theory?

No. It is imminently falsifiable...

Err...eminently, not imminently
tblakely1357
1.3 / 5 (15) Mar 13, 2018
Ahh, so that's why they always 'adjust' recorded temperatures upwards. Gotta keep those grants coming in.
thefurlong
4.8 / 5 (18) Mar 13, 2018
Ahh, so that's why they always 'adjust' recorded temperatures upwards. Gotta keep those grants coming in.


Hahah. Oh, yeah. Silly me. I forgot that the comments section of this site was for bare assertions, and misinformed personal opinion, rather than fact checking.

Thanks for reminding me.

FYI, in response to what you said in that other comments thread, just because you wear Huggies to work, that does not mean we all do.
antigoracle
1.2 / 5 (17) Mar 13, 2018
Is GW an unfalsifiable theory?

No. It is imminently falsifiable. Just show that average global temperatures have not been following an increasing trend. Or, if you understand that that's true, but doubt that people have an effect, show that the causal relationship between human burning of fossil fuels, and the rise in average global temperature is statistically insignificant.

A major stepping stone towards doing that is actually understanding what Climate Scientists actually claim, rather than what you think they claim.


LMAO...When did the globe start warming and how much man-made CO2 was there back then?
TrollBane
5 / 5 (13) Mar 13, 2018
Abbreviations and rhetorical questions that have been repeatedly answered -- anti's areas of 'expertise'.
SamB
1.6 / 5 (7) Mar 13, 2018
And if the winters had been warmer guess what headline would be listed here. (They got you covered either way!)
grandpa
1.3 / 5 (14) Mar 13, 2018
Ahh, so that's why they always 'adjust' recorded temperatures upwards. Gotta keep those grants coming in.


Hahah. Oh, yeah. Silly me. I forgot that the comments section of this site was for bare assertions, and misinformed personal opinion, rather than fact checking.

Thanks for reminding me.

FYI, in response to what you said in that other comments thread, just because you wear Huggies to work, that does not mean we all do.


There are reasons to be skeptical of global warming. Although I personally believe the scientists are right that increased carbon dioxide will warm the earth and change climates. The following chart shows the predictive models and actual temperature trends. It looks like almost all of the models are wrong. The temperatures have followed the lowest temperature change model. https://www.googl...774&
HeloMenelo
5 / 5 (12) Mar 14, 2018
Is GW an unfalsifiable theory?

No. It is imminently falsifiable. Just show that average global temperatures have not been following an increasing trend.

A major stepping stone towards doing that is actually understanding what Climate Scientists actually claim, rather than what you think they claim.


LMAO...When did the globe start warming and how much man-made CO2 was there back then?


Aaaah... monkey goracle decided to post in one of his original socks today for a change... glad you made the effort to sound as silly as ever... :D
Now....
Rather than more barking and chest thumping, give us your scientific evidence without strawman principles so as to not make you look like an idiot (if thats even possible ??) to contradict the decades of overwhelming evidence of actual science proving beyond any doubt that Human Induced Climate change is real... More monkey chatter from your side.... ? thought so.. ;)
Parsec
5 / 5 (11) Mar 14, 2018
Once again folks, climate change denial has nothing to do with facts. It's about people to whom the world is a really scary place, and denial makes it a little less scary for them.

Arguing facts against emotion is doomed to fail. When people start sprouting their anti-science drivel, just smile and back away slowly. You cannot conquer crazy with reason. You just can't.

It isn't that having a different opinion is crazy, its trying to post pseudo-scientific or religious/political arguments in a scientific forum and not realizing that most posters here KNOW they are completely full of it. Unlike the other forums they post in. Here we pretty much can tell you are an idiot for posting such nonsense.
RealScienceMatter
5 / 5 (12) Mar 14, 2018
Ahh, so that's why they always 'adjust' recorded temperatures upwards. Gotta keep those grants coming in.

The Grants used for science is absolutely invaluable to enhance scientific research, you trying to come and try and deiscredit science because of what is spent for the good of the earth makes you look even more absurd.

Ask yourself this. How many Grants is spend on BS advertising by the denier campaign, and how much is spent wasting the earth by creating more jobs to pump trillions of gallons of pollution into the air all in the name of greed and dumbfounded glory. Then YOU come and talk about mere science spending ? ? This is why we love exposing your idiot replies.
HeloMenelo
5 / 5 (10) Mar 14, 2018
Here we pretty much can tell you are an idiot for posting such nonsense.


We do indeed, it's ol goracle and his spree of puppets making the stupid out of himself as always.

His self inflicted stupidity at it's best, making sure the world knows about it everyday, what better advertisement for Reality, Human climate change could there possibly be lol... loving every post about it :D
Ojorf
4.1 / 5 (14) Mar 14, 2018
Is GW an unfalsifiable theory?


At this stage it probably is, not because of some problem with the theory, but because the hard evidence is SO overwhelming in favor of it with literally nothing of substance to oppose it.
There is no hard data that can falsify it since hard data confirms the theory.
It cannot be falsified because it is true.
rrwillsj
4.4 / 5 (7) Mar 14, 2018
As usual the denierdolts miss the point of articles such as this one.

i.e. Global Climate Change means that the really bad weather no longer occurs only far away.

It means that increasingly violent storms and paint-blistering heat and snap freezes cold enough to turn you denier oxen blue.

Are now to be expected where you live. Sometimes in rapid succession!

Your whining about how unfair reality is being to you, is very unattractive.

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.