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A cold March despite of climate change

03/28/2013 - March 2013 in Europe has been somewhat cold. How this might be linked to global warming was shown by a study by PIK scientist Vladimir Petoukhov in 2010 already. The shrinking of sea-ice in the eastern Arctic causes some regional heating of the lower levels of air – which may lead to strong anomalies in atmospheric airstreams, triggering an overall cooling of the northern continents. These anomalies could increase the probability of cold winter extremes in Europe and northern Asia, the analysis showed.
A cold March despite of climate change

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"Sea-ice cover in the Barents Sea (from January to March as well in the Kara Sea) again was unusually low, combined with a high pressure area over and in the vicinity of this region. A similar situation has developed over the Labrador Sea, specifically in the second half of March,” Petoukhov says. "As a result, there were inflows of cold air from the northeast to Europe, like we described it in our paper. In addition to that, huge ice-free water surfaces in the north make inflowing air humid. That might be a reason why snowfall is heavy this winter over the above regions.”

Researchers from other institutes came to similar conclusions. Jennifer A. Francis and Stephen J. Vavrus write in Geophysical Research Letters about „Evidence linking Arctic amplification to extreme weather in mid-latitudes“, Ralf Jaiser,  Klaus Dethloff et al in journal Tellus A about the „Impact of sea ice cover changes in the Northern Hemisphere atmospheric winter circulation“ and Jiping Liu et al in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) about the “Impact of declining Arctic sea ice on winter snowfall”.

More information on the study by Vladimir Petoukhov:
http://www.pik-potsdam.de/aktuelles/pressemitteilungen/archiv/2010/erderwaermung-koennte-winter-kaelter-werden-lassen
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An overview on the connection of ice melting  and cold weather and the mechanism described by Petoukhov is also given in a blogpost (in German) by Stefan Rahmstorf, Chair of PIK research domain Earth Systeme Analysis:
http://www.scilogs.de/wblogs/blog/klimalounge/klimadaten/2013-03-19/winter-in-deutschland

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