Magazine article Natural History

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Magazine article Natural History

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Article excerpt

Over the past thirty years, summers in the rapidly warming Arctic have seen massive losses of sea ice and snow cover. As those reflective white areas disappear, more heat remains trapped in the region. Meanwhile, heat waves and other extreme summer weather events have increased in parts of the United States, Europe, Russia, and East Asia. Scientists have speculated whether changes in the Arctic are responsible for this prevalence of severe weather at lower latitudes, but the connections have remained... cloudy.

In a recent paper, Qiuhong Tang of the Institute of Geographic Sciences and Natural Resources Research, Chinese Academy of Sciences, in Beijing, and two other climate scientists investigated how shrinking snow and ice in the Arctic are linked to changes in summer atmospheric circulation. They also looked into a possible relationship between those changes in circulation and extreme summer weather events elsewhere.

Using data from remote sensing instruments on satellites and atmospheric reanalysis-a method that involves reprocessing data from an extended historical period using a modern analysis system-they found that the increase in temperatures over areas of reduced Arctic snow cover, and especially reduced sea ice, likely changed the | patterns of atmospheric ^ circulation. …

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