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Evidence linking Arctic amplification to extreme weather in mid-latitudes

TitleEvidence linking Arctic amplification to extreme weather in mid-latitudes
Publication TypeManual Entry
Year of Publication2012
AuthorsFrancis, Jennifer A., and Stephen J. Vavrus
Geophysical Research Letters
Type of ArticleJournal Article

Arctic amplification (AA) - the observed enhanced warming in high northern latitudes relative to the northern hemisphere - is evident in lower-tropospheric temperatures and in 1000-to-500 hPa thicknesses. Daily fields of 500 hPa heights from the National Centers for Environmental Prediction Reanalysis are analyzed over N. America and the N. Atlantic to assess changes in north-south (Rossby) wave characteristics associated with AA and the relaxation of poleward thickness gradients. Two effects are identified that each contribute to a slower eastward progression of Rossby waves in the upper-level flow: 1) weakened zonal winds, and 2) increased wave amplitude. These effects are particularly evident in autumn and winter consistent with sea-ice loss, but are also apparent in summer, possibly related to earlier snow melt on high-latitude land. Slower progression of upper-level waves would cause associated weather patterns in mid-latitudes to be more persistent, which may lead to an increased probability of extreme weather events that result from prolonged conditions, such as drought, flooding, cold spells, and heat waves. Citation: Francis, J. A., and S. J. Vavrus (2012), Evidence linking Arctic amplification to extreme weather in mid-latitudes, Geophys. Res. Lett., 39, L06801, doi:10.1029/2012GL051000.

Citation Key1303
Community Notes

This is very provocative paper suggesting the the changes in the sea ice and the changes in the springtime snow cover in Canada, Alaska, etc. are having fundamental changes in the propagation of weather systems across North America.  The carry away is that systems are moving more slowly, leading to more extreme events.  This would also suggest changes in the Arctic Oscillation, because the Arctic Oscillation is important in how weather systems move across the country.