Arctic ice melt causes problems beyond the pole

Arctic ice melt causes problems beyond the pole
Credit: Torsten Blackwood

TUCSON, AZ (Tucson News Now) - The Arctic Ocean's ice has been shrinking for decades and shows no sign of slowing down. It now looks like the extreme weather events seen the last few years are being caused by the shrinking ice.

The massive snowstorms seen this past winter in the New England states and the flooding rains in the United Kingdom are being caused by the rapid ice melt in the poles. It is not certain that "snowmageddon" from 2009 or Hurricane Sandy are caused directly by the ice melt, but the patterns around these events certainly can be blamed for the lack of ice.

What happens is that the polar jet is getting stuck in a certain pattern and as lows and highs ride the jet, the same weather happens to hit the same area time after time.

“We are seeing these extremes because the Arctic is warming faster than elsewhere. The whole lower atmosphere is heating up but the sea ice is the most observable. This is having this effect on the jet stream, making it extend further south and stay longer,” said Jennifer Francis, a Publisher for an article relating to the ice melt.

According to the NOAA the Arctic ice extent for the month of April was the second lowest on record for the month. If this trend continues the weather extremes could escalate in the coming years and colder winters and hotter summers will be seen.

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