The Northeast Blizzard: One More Sign of Global Warming
The loss of Arctic sea ice helps accelerate the warming of the atmosphere in the far north, thanks to what’s known as the albedo effect. White ice reflects sunlight into space, cooling the air, but when ice melts and is replaced with dark ocean water, the effect is reversed and more of the sun’s heat is absorbed.
The Arctic is completely covered with ice and snow, and it doesn’t get any sunlight this time of year.
As the Arctic air warms, it raises the altitude of discrete areas of high pressure, which can then alter wind patterns. This, in turn, can weaken the jet stream, allowing more cold air to seep out of the Arctic and into Europe and the eastern U.S.
The Arctic Oscillation has been negative the past two winters, which causes well defined regions of relative warm and cold. There is nothing new going on here.
As the authors of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s recent “Arctic Report Card” put it, “There is evidence that the effect of higher air temperatures in the lower Arctic atmosphere in fall is contributing to changes in the atmospheric circulation in both the Arctic and northern mid-latitudes. Winter 2009-2010 showed a new connectivity between mid-latitude extreme cold and snowy weather events and changes in the wind patterns of the Arctic; the so-called Warm Arctic–Cold Continents pattern.”
In other words, they had to make up some technical sounding jargon to hide the fact that the climate models were wrong.
h/t to Marc Morano