Consequences of Arctic Warming for European Climate and Extreme Weather

Department Name: Science and Technology


The Arctic region is undergoing dramatic changes, in the atmosphere, ocean, ice and on land. The Arctic lower atmosphere is warming at more than twice the rate of the global average, the Arctic sea ice and Greenland Ice Sheet melt have accelerated in the past 30 years. Notable observed changes in the ocean include the freshening of the Beaufort Gyre, and 'Atlantification' of the Barents Sea and of the Eastern Arctic Ocean. Such profound environmental change is likely to have implications across the globe - it is often said, "What happens in the Arctic doesn't stay in the Arctic". Past work has indicated that Arctic amplification can, in principle, affect European climate and extreme weather, but a clear picture of how and why is currently lacking. The 2019 Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Special Report on Oceans and Cryosphere concluded "changes in Arctic sea ice have the potential to influence midlatitude weather, but there is low confidence in the detection of this influence for specific weather types".

ArctiCONNECT brings together experts in climate dynamics, polar and subpolar oceanography, and extreme weather, in order to transform understanding of the effects of accelerating Arctic warming on European climate and extreme weather, through an innovative and integrative program of research bridging theory, models of varying complexity, and observations. It will (i) uncover the atmospheric and oceanic mechanisms of Arctic influence on Europe; (ii) determine the ability of state-of-the-art climate models to simulate realistic Arctic-to-Europe teleconnections; and (iii) quantify and understand the contribution of Arctic warming to projected changes in European weather extremes and to the hazards posed to society.


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Description 1. Analysis of observations and climate models reveals that the Autumn seasonal decline in high-latitude North Atlantic sea surface temperature (SST) has strengthened in recent decades.
2. The stronger seasonal decline is consistent with greater sensitivity of SST to surface heat loss due to increased stratification and some regions of greater heat loss.
3. The autumn changes lead to an enhanced winter meridional SST gradient which has the potential to promote future winter storminess.

These results have been written up in the following paper which is close to submission:
Grist, J. P., S. A. Josey, B. Sinha, Observed and projected changes in North Atlantic seasonal temperature reduction and their drivers, in preparation for J. Geophys. Research -Oceans.
Exploitation Route Too early to say (the award is still active)
Sectors Environment