Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Correlation between summer Arctic sea ice cover and winter weather in Central Europe

01.02.2012
Even if the current weather situation may seem to speak against it, the probability of cold winters with much snow in Central Europe rises when the Arctic is covered by less sea ice in summer.
Scientists of the Research Unit Potsdam of the Alfred Wegener Institute for Polar and Marine Research in the Helmholtz Association have decrypted a mechanism in which a shrinking summertime sea ice cover changes the air pressure zones in the Arctic atmosphere and impacts our European winter weather. These results of a global climate analysis were recently published in a study in the scientific journal Tellus A.

If there is a particularly large-scale melt of Arctic sea ice in summer, as observed in recent years, two important effects are intensified. Firstly, the retreat of the light ice surface reveals the darker ocean, causing it to warm up more in summer from the solar radiation (ice-albedo feedback mechanism). Secondly, the diminished ice cover can no longer prevent the heat stored in the ocean being released into the atmosphere (lid effect). As a result of the decreased sea ice cover the air is warmed more greatly than it used to be particularly in autumn and winter because during this period the ocean is warmer than the atmosphere. "These higher temperatures can be proven by current measurements from the Arctic regions", reports Ralf Jaiser, lead author of the publication from the Research Unit Potsdam of the Alfred Wegener Institute.

The warming of the air near to the ground leads to rising movements and the atmosphere becomes less stable. “We have analysed the complex non-linear processes behind this destabilisation and have shown how these altered conditions in the Arctic influence the typical circulation and air pressure patterns", explains Jaiser. One of these patterns is the air pressure difference between the Arctic and mid-latitudes: the so-called Arctic oscillation with the Azores highs and Iceland lows known from the weather reports. If this difference is high, a strong westerly wind will result which in winter carries warm and humid Atlantic air masses right down to Europe. If the wind does not come, cold Arctic air can penetrate down through to Europe, as was the case in the last two winters. Model calculations show that the air pressure difference with decreased sea ice cover in the Arctic summer is weakened in the following winter, enabling Arctic cold to push down to mid-latitudes.

Despite the low sea ice cover in summer 2011, a cold winter with much snow has so far not occurred here in Germany. Jaiser explains this as follows: "Many other factors naturally play a role in the complex climate system of our Earth which overlap in part. Our results explain the mechanisms of how regional changes in the Arctic sea ice cover have a global impact and their effects over a period from late summer to winter. Other mechanisms are linked, for example, with the snow cover in Siberia or tropical influences. The interactions between these influential factors will be the subject matter of future research work and therefore represent a factor of uncertainty in forecasts.”

It is the aim of the Potsdam researchers to find and analyse further mechanisms and to correctly show the Earth’s climate system with the help of these mechanisms in models. “Our work contributes to reducing the existing uncertainties of the global climate model and developing more credible regional climate scenarios – an important foundation to enable people to adjust to the altered conditions”, explains Prof. Dr. Klaus Dethloff, Head of the Atmospheric Circulation Section at the Research Unit Potsdam of the Alfred Wegener Institute.

Title of the original publication: R. Jaiser, K. Dethloff, D. Handorf, A. Rinke, J. Cohen, Impact of sea ice cover changes on the Northern Hemisphere atmospheric winter circulation, Tellus A 2012, 64, 11595, doi:10.3402/tellusa.v64i0.11595 (http://www.tellus.net/index.php/tellusa/article/view/11595)

Notes for Editors: Printable images are available at http://www.awi.de/en/news/press_releases/. Your contact partners in the Research Unit Potsdam of the Alfred Wegener Institute are Ralf Jaiser (Tel.: +49 (0)331/288-2167; email: Ralf.Jaiser@awi.de) and Prof. Dr. Klaus Dethloff (Tel.: +49 (0)331/288-2104; email: Klaus.Dethloff@awi.de). Your contact partner in the press office is Dr. Folke Mehrtens (Tel.: +49 (0)471/4831-2007; email: Folke.Mehrtens@awi.de). Please send us a copy on publication.

The Alfred Wegener Institute conducts research in the Arctic and Antarctic and in the high and mid-latitude oceans. The Institute coordinates German polar research and provides important infrastructure such as the research ice breaker Polarstern and research stations in the Arctic and Antarctic to the national and international scientific world. The Alfred Wegener Institute is one of the 18 research centres of the Helmholtz Association, the largest scientific organisation in Germany.

Ralf Röchert | idw
Further information:
http://www.awi.de

More articles from Studies and Analyses:

nachricht The Great Unknown: Risk-Taking Behavior in Adolescents
19.01.2017 | Max-Planck-Institut für Bildungsforschung

nachricht A sudden drop in outdoor temperature increases the risk of respiratory infections
11.01.2017 | University of Gothenburg

All articles from Studies and Analyses >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Traffic jam in empty space

New success for Konstanz physicists in studying the quantum vacuum

An important step towards a completely new experimental access to quantum physics has been made at University of Konstanz. The team of scientists headed by...

Im Focus: How gut bacteria can make us ill

HZI researchers decipher infection mechanisms of Yersinia and immune responses of the host

Yersiniae cause severe intestinal infections. Studies using Yersinia pseudotuberculosis as a model organism aim to elucidate the infection mechanisms of these...

Im Focus: Interfacial Superconductivity: Magnetic and superconducting order revealed simultaneously

Researchers from the University of Hamburg in Germany, in collaboration with colleagues from the University of Aarhus in Denmark, have synthesized a new superconducting material by growing a few layers of an antiferromagnetic transition-metal chalcogenide on a bismuth-based topological insulator, both being non-superconducting materials.

While superconductivity and magnetism are generally believed to be mutually exclusive, surprisingly, in this new material, superconducting correlations...

Im Focus: Studying fundamental particles in materials

Laser-driving of semimetals allows creating novel quasiparticle states within condensed matter systems and switching between different states on ultrafast time scales

Studying properties of fundamental particles in condensed matter systems is a promising approach to quantum field theory. Quasiparticles offer the opportunity...

Im Focus: Designing Architecture with Solar Building Envelopes

Among the general public, solar thermal energy is currently associated with dark blue, rectangular collectors on building roofs. Technologies are needed for aesthetically high quality architecture which offer the architect more room for manoeuvre when it comes to low- and plus-energy buildings. With the “ArKol” project, researchers at Fraunhofer ISE together with partners are currently developing two façade collectors for solar thermal energy generation, which permit a high degree of design flexibility: a strip collector for opaque façade sections and a solar thermal blind for transparent sections. The current state of the two developments will be presented at the BAU 2017 trade fair.

As part of the “ArKol – development of architecturally highly integrated façade collectors with heat pipes” project, Fraunhofer ISE together with its partners...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Sustainable Water use in Agriculture in Eastern Europe and Central Asia

19.01.2017 | Event News

12V, 48V, high-voltage – trends in E/E automotive architecture

10.01.2017 | Event News

2nd Conference on Non-Textual Information on 10 and 11 May 2017 in Hannover

09.01.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Helmholtz International Fellow Award for Sarah Amalia Teichmann

20.01.2017 | Awards Funding

An innovative high-performance material: biofibers made from green lacewing silk

20.01.2017 | Materials Sciences

Ion treatments for cardiac arrhythmia — Non-invasive alternative to catheter-based surgery

20.01.2017 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>