Swathes of North America are icy cold due to a polar vortex. Australia has had its warmest year ever. The globe has just experienced its warmest ever November. And it’s unpleasant in Blighty – deeply so.
Cornell’s Charles H. Greene, professor of earth and atmospheric sciences, and Bruce C. Monger, senior research associate in the same department, detail this phenomenon in a paper published in the June issue of the journal Oceanography.
“Everyone thinks of Arctic climate change as this remote phenomenon that has little effect on our everyday lives,” Greene said. “But what goes on in the Arctic remotely forces our weather patterns here.”
A warmer Earth increases the melting of sea ice during summer, exposing more dark ocean water to incoming sunlight. This causes increased absorption of solar radiation and excess summertime heating of the ocean — further accelerating the ice melt. The excess heat is released to the atmosphere, especially during the autumn, decreasing the temperature and atmospheric pressure gradients between the Arctic and middle latitudes.
A diminished latitudinal pressure gradient is linked to a weakening of the winds associated with…
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