Thomas J Ballinger

Thomas J Ballinger
University of Alaska Fairbanks · International Arctic Research Center

PhD

About

43
Publications
18,012
Reads
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901
Citations
Citations since 2017
33 Research Items
855 Citations
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Introduction
My research intersects Arctic weather-climate processes and cryosphere behaviors. Two current, broad areas of active research include glacial ice-atmosphere-ocean interactions, and impacts of sea-ice conditions on meso-to-synoptic scale weather and climate. Recent collaborative efforts have examined: 1) the influence of Baffin Bay ice cover/open water on Greenland coastal climate and ice sheet mass balance, and upper-air atmospheric circulation (e.g. Greenland Blocking characteristics), 2) subseasonal ocean-atmosphere conditions effecting the Pacific Arctic sea ice melt, and 3) physical linkages between Arctic marginal sea ice conditions, the polar jet stream, and boreal mid-latitude temperature and precipitation extremes.
Education
August 2011 - May 2015
Kent State University
Field of study
  • Geography
September 2008 - August 2011
The Ohio State University
Field of study
  • Geography

Publications

Publications (43)
Article
Full-text available
While climate models project that Greenland ice sheet (GrIS) melt will continue to accelerate with climate change, models exhibit limitations in capturing observed connections between GrIS melt and changes in high-latitude atmospheric circulation. Here we impose observed Arctic winds in a fully-coupled climate model with fixed anthropogenic forcing...
Article
Monitoring and quantifying high‐latitude atmospheric circulation variability and trends are important toward understanding the anatomy of extreme events and constraining their probabilities under continued Arctic change. The greater Alaska region stands out as one region of enhanced warming and environmental changes over the Arctic Amplification er...
Article
Recent fingerprints of Alaskan Arctic climate change include new weather patterns whose impacts propagate through the Alaskan marine ecosystem. Multiple lines of observational evidence draw attention to the last five years (2017–2021) as a remarkable period of change. Bering Sea winter and spring ice coverage was remarkably low in 2018 and 2019 ass...
Article
Full-text available
Plain Language Summary Unusually stormy winter weather occurred in the southern Beaufort Sea during February and March 2020, affecting the U.S. Navy's Ice Exercise (ICEX) operations. Instead of the typical Beaufort High pressure pattern and associated easterly winds, frequent and at times intense storms moved across the Chukchi and Beaufort Seas, u...
Article
Full-text available
Glacier mass variations are climate indicators. Therefore, it is essential to examine both winter and summer mass balance variability over a long period of time to address climate-related ice mass fluctuations. In this study, we analyze glacier mass balance components and hypsometric characteristics with respect to their interactions with local met...
Article
Full-text available
Pronounced changes in the Arctic environment add a new potential driver of anomalous weather patterns in midlatitudes that affect billions of people. Recent studies of these Arctic/midlatitude weather linkages, however, state inconsistent conclusions. A source of uncertainty arises from the chaotic nature of the atmosphere. Thermodynamic forcing by...
Article
We provide an updated analysis of instrumental Greenland monthly temperature data to 2019, focusing mainly on coastal stations but also analysing ice‐sheet records from Swiss Camp and Summit. Significant summer (winter) coastal warming of ~1.7 (4.4) °C occurred from 1991‐2019, but since 2001 overall temperature trends are generally flat and insigni...
Article
Substantial marine, terrestrial, and atmospheric changes have occurred over the Greenland region during the last century. Several studies have documented record-levels of Greenland Ice Sheet (GrIS) summer melt extent during the 2000s and 2010s, but relatively little work has been carried out to assess regional climatic changes in other seasons. Her...
Article
Full-text available
Glacial lake formations are currently being observed in the majority of glacierized mountains in the world. Given the ongoing climate change and population increase, studying glacier ice thickness and bed topography is a necessity for understanding the erosive power of glacier activity in the past and lake formation in the future. This study uses t...
Article
Full-text available
The greatest impacts of climate change on ecosystems, wildlife and humans often arise from extreme events rather than changes in climatic means. Northern high latitudes, including the Arctic, experience a variety of climate-related extreme events, yet there has been little attempt to synthesize information on extreme events in this region. This rev...
Article
Full-text available
The Arctic has warmed more than twice as fast as the global average since the late twentieth century, a phenomenon known as Arctic amplification (AA). Recently, there have been considerable advances in understanding the physical contributions to AA, and progress has been made in understanding the mechanisms that link it to midlatitude weather varia...
Article
The Arctic has warmed more than twice as fast as the global average since the late 20th century, a phenomenon known as Arctic amplification (AA). Recently, there have been significant advances in understanding the physical contributions to AA and progress has been made in understanding the mechanisms linking AA to mid-latitude weather variability....
Article
Full-text available
One consequence of recent Arctic warming is an increased occurrence and longer seasonality of above-freezing air temperature episodes. There is significant disagreement in the literature concerning potential physical connectivity between high-latitude open water duration proximate to the Greenland Ice Sheet (GrIS) and late-season (i.e., end-of-summ...
Article
Full-text available
Recent studies point to a significant rise in the number of summer extreme weather events that correspond with the presence of amplified, quasi‐stationary mid‐tropospheric planetary waves, weakened atmospheric circulation in the Northern Hemisphere (NH), and coincide with reduced summer Arctic sea ice cover. This study explores potential connection...
Article
Full-text available
One observed fingerprint of Pacific Arctic environmental change, induced by climate warming and amplified local feedbacks, is a shift toward earlier onset of sea ice melt. Shorter freeze periods impact the melt season energy balance with cascading effects on ecological productivity and human presence in the region. Through this study, a non-linear...
Article
Full-text available
One consequence of recent Arctic warming is an increased occurrence and longer seasonality of above-freezing air temperature episodes. There is significant disagreement in the literature concerning potential physical connectivity between high-latitude open water duration proximate to the Greenland Ice Sheet (GrIS) and unseasonal (i.e. late summer a...
Poster
Full-text available
A number of insitu and passive microwave satellite sensors have observed Arctic sea ice and Greenland Ice Sheet (GrIS) mass loss trends over recent decades. Along with sea and land ice declines, above-freezing, near-surface air temperatures are observed earlier in boreal spring and later in autumn thus extending periods of melt beyond the core of s...
Article
Arctic climatology involves the study of complex and dynamic land-ocean-atmosphere interactions across semipermanently frozen northern high-latitude environments. These areas, approximately confined within the polar cell (north of 60°N), comprise a vast portion of the semipermanent boreal cryosphere and are particularly sensitive to climatic fluctu...
Article
Full-text available
The Arctic marine environment is undergoing a transition from thick multi-year to first-year sea-ice cover with coincident lengthening of the melt season. Such changes are evident in the Baffin Bay- Davis Strait-Labrador Sea (BDL) region where melt onset has occurred ∼8 days decade−1 earlier from 1979 to 2015. A series of anomalously early events h...
Poster
Full-text available
Oceanic and atmospheric warming of Greenland and surrounding areas has led to increased ice sheet spatial melt extent and decreased sea ice coverage during the summer months. The last two decades have witnessed increased warm air and moisture advection into the region from Greenland blocks and transient synoptic patterns that have exasperated the b...
Article
We present a homogenized Greenland blocking index (GBI) daily record from 1851 to 2015, therefore significantly extending our previously published monthly/seasonal GBI analysis. This new time series is analysed for evidence of changes in extreme events, and we investigate the underlying thermodynamic and dynamic precursors. We compare occurrences a...
Article
Spring (MAM) snow coverage across North America (NA) has significantly declined during the last half-century (1967–2016) with possible linkages to changing behaviors in large-scale atmospheric circulation. In this study, we investigate relationships between intraseasonal and sub-continental snow cover characteristics and the Pacific–North American...
Article
Full-text available
Ongoing climatic and cryospheric changes observed throughout the greater Alaska region are interconnected and often linked to oceanic and atmospheric patterns and processes that operate on varying spatiotemporal scales. To evaluate the long-term, mid-tropospheric circulation field across Alaska, and possible connections to climate and environmental...
Article
Full-text available
Variations in sea ice freeze onset and regional sea surface temperatures (SSTs) in Baffin Bay and Greenland Sea are linked to autumn surface air temperatures (SATs) around coastal Greenland through 500 hPa blocking patterns, 1979–2014. We find strong, statistically significant correlations between Baffin Bay freeze onset and SSTs and SATs across th...
Article
Full-text available
Alaskan Arctic waters have participated in hemispheric-wide Arctic warming over the last two decades at over two times the rate of global warming. During 2008–13, this relative warming occurred only north of the Bering Strait and the atmospheric Arctic front that forms a north–south thermal barrier. This front separates the southeastern Bering Sea...
Article
Arctic sea ice has been shrinking at unprecedented rates over the past three decades. These cryospheric changes have coincided with greater incidence of global extreme weather conditions, including increased severity and frequency of summer heatwaves and extreme rainfall events. Recent studies identify potential physical mechanisms related to Rossb...
Article
Full-text available
Summer and autumn sea ice conditions in the Western Arctic have rapidly changed in recent years, while increases in lower tropospheric air temperature and moisture have concurrently been observed across much of the high northern latitudes during the autumn (October – December) and winter (January – March) months. However, the spatiotemporal relatio...
Article
Full-text available
The western Arctic sea ice cover has dramatically changed since the late 1970s, particularly the timing of the autumn freeze-up. While atmospheric dynamic and thermodynamic processes associated with synoptic-scale weather patterns largely impact the onset of regional ice formation, linkages between the subseasonal occurrences of these patterns, acr...
Article
Full-text available
Climate types, biome types, and soil orders are commonly used among physical geographers in research and to describe natural environmental characteristics. However, little attempt has been made to quantify the percentage of global land surface that is covered by combinations of climate types, biomes, and soil orders. This research overlays a world...
Article
Full-text available
This study examines the sea ice cover minima in the western Arctic in the context of several climatic mechanisms known to impact its variability. The September latitude of western Arctic sea ice is measured along 11 equally-spaced longitudes extending from 176º W to 126º W in the Chukchi and Beaufort Seas, 1953–2010. Indices of seasonal atmospheric...
Article
Melt season frequencies of the Beaufort Sea High (BSH) have a profound effect on western Arctic climate, making the interannual spatial and temporal monitoring of this polar anticyclone important. This manuscript presents two automated synoptic climatological analyses using a two-step cluster procedure to classify daily mean sea level pressure (MSL...
Article
Full-text available
January 2014 will be remembered for the sensationalized media usage of the term 'polar vortex' which coincided with several polar air outbreaks. A United States polar vortex (USPV) perspective is presented to better understand the January spatial and temporal variability of this regional component of the Northern Hemisphere circumpolar vortex. Use...
Article
In this study, a synoptic climatological approach is employed to assess the relationship between the frequency of circulation patterns (CPs) and the latitude of mid-September sea ice minima in the western Arctic. Fifteen CPs are created via principal component analysis and cluster analysis from daily NCEP/NCAR reanalysis sea-level pressure (SLP) fi...
Article
Summer sea ice in the western Arctic, specifically in the Chukchi and Beaufort Seas, has been rapidly declining during the last several decades. Annual minima in six recent Septembers (2007–2012) have witnessed the lowest western Arctic sea ice extents of the modern satellite era. The western Arctic summer sea ice has become less extensive amidst a...
Article
Full-text available
As an additional classification to Koppens climate classification for polar (E) climates, the Polar Marine (EM) climate was presented nearly five decades ago and is revisited in this paper. The EM climate was traced to the North Atlantic, North Pacific, and Southern Ocean and recognized as wet, cloudy, and windy, especially during winter. These are...
Article
Employing both map pattern classification and weather typing, this study examines the role of climate in impacting air quality in Cleveland, Ohio from 1998 to 2007. This research creates a large-scale map pattern-classification of 500 mb geopotential heights that characterizes the broad scale flow of the atmosphere and the Spatial Synoptic Classifi...

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Project (1)
Project
The International Arctic Research Center at UAF is launching its first massive open online course (https://lnkd.in/gESgYAvE)! Climate Change in Arctic Environments makes it easy to gain a basic understanding of modern climate science and the impacts of climate change across atmospheric, marine, terrestrial and human systems. IARC’s Rick Thoman and John Walsh shaped the course by bringing together over 30 experts from across the Arctic. In a series of 8-10 minute videos, they explore the state of Arctic climate change as it relates to sea ice, glaciers, fish, birds, Indigenous knowledge, international policy and more.