Arctic ice decline could be cause of frigid MarchThe decline of sea ice in the Arctic could be linked to this month's long cold stretch in Wisconsin, says a climate scientist.
By: By Chuck Quirmbach, Wisconsin Public Radio, Superior Telegram
The decline of sea ice in the Arctic could be linked to this month's long cold stretch in Wisconsin, says a climate scientist.
UW-Madison professor Steve Vavrus and a colleague at Rutgers University published a paper last year. It hypothesized that warming in the Arctic would affect air pressure and slow the jet stream patterns around the northern hemisphere, leading to more long-lasting weather patterns. The scientists also said the west-to-east river of air would meander more, and set up more extreme weather. Vavrus says there was record-low sea ice coverage in the Arctic last summer; then, over the winter, Russia had its longest severe cold snap in 75 years. And then, Vavrus says, there's been this month in Wisconsin.
“We've also had a repeat of the very weak circulation patten: it's ongoing,” he said. “And we've just experienced a very cold month of March. We're looking at the coldest march in southern Wisconsin in 35-40 years.”
Vavrus cautions there is some natural fluctuation of the circulation patterns.
“But what we're arguing the loss of sea ice loss is ... loading the dice in favor of a more negative Arctic oscillation pattern,” he said.
Vavrus says he's a climate scientist, not a politician, but he says anything we can do to slow down the greenhouse warming effect that may be affecting the weather is a good thing. He says, otherwise, people will have to find more ways to adapt to the changing conditions.