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Arctic Spring

Climate scientists have linked the massive snowstorms and abnormally cold spring weather that is being experienced across large parts of Northern Europe and North America to the dramatic loss of Artic Sea ice.

On Monday, ice records published by the National Snow and Ice Data Centre (NSIDC) in Boulder, Colorado showed an alarming decrease in Arctic Ice. Both the coverage and the volume of the sea ice that forms and melts each year in the Arctic Ocean fell to an all time historic low last autumn. The results on Monday also show how the ice extent is close to the minimum recorded for this time of the year.

According to Jennifer Francis, research professor with the Rutgers Institute of Coastal and Marine Science, the Arctic Ice is currently 80% less than it was just 30 years ago. According to Francis, the dramatic loss of sea ice “is a symptom of global warming and it contributes to enhanced warming of the Arctic.”

According to Jennifer Francis and other researchers, such as, Vladimir Petoukhov, professor at the Potsdam Institute in Germany, the Arctic Ice loss adds heat to the ocean and atmosphere which shifts the position of the jet stream – a fast flowing, narrow air currents found in the atmosphere which is able to have an effect on weather patterns.

A recent paper by the US government’s National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) also found that enhanced warming of the Arctic influenced weather across the northern hemisphere. The heavy snowfall and freezing temperatures that are currently experienced in the northern hemisphere show a stark contrast to March of 2012 where countries experienced their warmest springs ever. Scientists hypothesize that changing wind patterns caused by the melting of Arctic Sea ice has transferred massive amounts of cold air into the atmosphere. According to the scientists, new amounts of cold air into the atmosphere would explain both extremes of warm and cold temperatures that are being experienced.

Researchers state that, with more solar energy radiating the Arctic Ocean, there is reason to expect more extreme weather events, such as heavy snowfall, heat waves, and flooding in North America and Europe.”

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