As the Arctic region is known to be increasing in temperature at twice the rate of the rest of the planet, differences in air pressure at the North Pole are disrupting planetary air currents, causing wind pattern changes.
According to Dr. James Overland of the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) Pacific Marine Environmental Laboratory, these shifting winds caused the exceptionally cold and snowy winters of 2009-2010 as seen across large regions of the globe.
Dr. Overland presented his findings at the recent International Polar Year conference in Oslo, Norway.
Dr. James Overland – (M): You tend to think of a global warming signal being warming everywhere, but it’s more complex than that. Actually, the Arctic is warming and the heat that’s stored from the summer in the ocean is giving back to the atmosphere in the fall, and it forms a dome of high pressure and warm temperatures over the Arctic.
VOICE: Dr. Overland explained that the difference between the high and low air pressure systems in the north and further south effectively pulls the relatively frigid northern Arctic air down to the warmer mid-latitudes of Scandinavia, eastern North America and eastern Eurasia. This effect also stops the south-to-north movement of warmer air.
Dr. James Overland (M): So, with the warming, you have more winds coming out of the north, but they’re bringing relatively colder air from the north into the south. So that’s why you have the cold temperatures. And it’s also blocking a lot of the normal warm storms that occur further south and come into Europe.
And so we end up having a colder and snowier weather that occurred last December and last January [that] are linked to the large changes that we’re seeing in the Arctic now.
VOICE: As continued warming of the Arctic’s atmosphere and oceans brings further irreversible decline of Arctic sea ice and diminished cooling reflection of the sun’s heat, Dr. Overland warned that this destabilized Arctic climate system will lead to more extreme winter weather.
We thank Dr. Overland for helping us understand how global warming is linked to severe seasonal cold in parts of the Northern Hemisphere. May such findings prompt us to quickly adopt solutions that rebalance our treasured planetary home.
During an August 2009 videoconference in Thailand Supreme Master Ching Hai expressed her ever-present concern for humans’ vulnerability to these increasingly severe conditions as she urged for their effective countermeasure.