A Link Has Been Found Between A Warming Arctic And Extreme Weather In Temperate Zones

Cars are abandoned on a flooded road after heavy rains and flash flooding in Bayshore, New York. The south shore of Long Island along with the tri-state region saw record setting rain that caused roads to flood entrapping some motorists. Andrew Theodorakis/Getty Images

A link has been found between declining Arctic snow levels and extreme winter weather in the northern mid-latitudes.

Scientists say a weaker temperature gradient between the Arctic and mid-latitudes leads to changes in jet streams, storm tracks, and the energy carried by large-scale atmospheric waves

Mechanisms that can potentially link fast warming in the Arctic region and extreme winter weather in the northern mid-latitudes are identified in a review article published in the journal Nature Geoscience.

However, how large the influence of Arctic ice and snow decline is on mid-latitude winter weather remains highly uncertain.

Judah Cohen of Atmospheric and Environmental Research Inc and colleagues reviewed the literature on potential links between the amplified warming in the Arctic region and extreme weather events, and identified potential pathways of influence.

They suggest a weaker temperature gradient between the Arctic and mid-latitudes could lead to changes in key features of the northern hemisphere atmosphere, such as the jet stream and the storm track.

A weaker gradient could also alter the ways in which energy is transported by large-scale atmospheric waves.

These changes, in turn, have the potential to influence the occurrence of mid-latitude weather extremes like the persistent cold conditions which hit the United States during winter 2013/14.

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