Lacking Arctic ice fueled the “Beast of the East” winter storm

Enlarge / Choosing up moisture from the ice-free sea, a storm builds and heads in the direction of Europe. (credit score: NASA)
Excessive climate has grow to be the brand new regular—whether or not it’s precipitation, drought, wind, warmth, or chilly. The query of how the ever-shrinking layer of Arctic sea ice has contributed to any of those adjustments has prompted some energetic dialogue over the previous few years. Researchers have proposed {that a} weakened jet stream pushed by vanishing Arctic sea ice would possibly play a big function in excessive winter occasions just like the descending polar vortex that struck North America earlier this 12 months. However the concept hasn’t held up properly in mild of more moderen proof.
However now, researchers have recognized a direct hyperlink between excessive winter climate and sea ice loss. The 2018 “Beast of the East” winter storm hit Europe with record-breaking snowfall and low temperatures. And probably as a lot as 88 p.c of that snowfall originated from elevated evaporation of the Barents Sea.
The working speculation is that Arctic sea ice acts as a cap for Arctic waters, limiting evaporation. Much less sea ice and hotter Arctic temperatures imply extra evaporation, probably explaining the elevated severity of winter storms just like the Beast of the East. Till now, it’s been powerful to measure direct proof linking sea ice loss to excessive European winters, however current advances in know-how are making this rather less difficult.Learn 11 remaining paragraphs | Feedback

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