It’s been a frequent debating point from climate sceptics. Recent cold winters in Britain and Europe, they often say, undermine the case that the world is growing warmer. Scientists have tended to reply that that is to mix up the short-term effects of weather in a particular region with long term climate change, and that the cold winters therefore are of little significance.
But now new research suggests that both are wrong – that the icy weather is indeed evidence of change but that, counterintuitively, it reinforces the case for global warming rather than the reverse.
Research at Tokyo University and Japan’s National Institute of Polar Research – published in the current issue of the journal Nature Geoscience – has linked the cold winters with the “rapid decline of Arctic sea ice”, caused by warming, over the past decade.
The most comprehensive computer modelling study on the issue to date, it concludes the risk of severe winters in Europe and Northern Asia has doubled as the result of the climate change.
It works like this, say the scientists. As the ice melts it exposes open water which, being very much darker, absorbs more heat. The warmer water then warms the air above it which in turn, weakens the jet stream, the high level river of air which does much to determine the weather.
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SOURCE: The Telegraph UK