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Considerable Arctic Sea ice loss as a factor of cold weather and heavy snowfalls in Eurasia

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There goes climate warming on the Earth. An especially tremendous warming goes in the Arctic. This causes shrinking of the sea ice extent in the Arctic. Considerable Arctic Sea ice loss can lead to some extra evaporation of water vapor from the sea surface and saturation of the atmosphere with water vapor. Due to atmospheric circulation, extreme temperature anomalies and heavy snowfalls can appear in the following winter season in the lower latitudes, according to a number of studies. Some warm winters in Eurasia and America are associated with a situation in the Arctic where an extremely stable area of low pressure in the vicinity of the North Pole was present during a long time period and did not let cold air masses to move away from its borders. As a consequence, in most of the territory of Russia, USA, Northern Europe, and Eastern Canada the temperature of the winter months was a few degrees more than the usual one, for example in 2019/2020 winter months. The resulting destruction of the North Pole vortex and coming of cold air masses to Eurasia and America lead to a cold snowy winter.
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Considerable Arctic Sea ice loss as a factor of cold
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To cite this article: D Frolov 2022 IOP Conf. Ser.: Earth Environ. Sci. 1023 012006
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CITES-2021
IOP Conf. Series: Earth and Environmental Science 1023 (2022) 012006
IOP Publishing
doi:10.1088/1755-1315/1023/1/012006
1
Considerable Arctic Sea ice loss as a factor of cold weather
and heavy snowfalls in Eurasia
D Frolov
Lomonosov Moscow State University, Moscow, 119991, Russia
E-mail: denisfrolovm@mail.ru
ORCID ID 0000-0002-0307-8175
Abstract. There goes climate warming on the Earth. An especially tremendous warming goes
in the Arctic. This causes shrinking of the sea ice extent in the Arctic. Considerable Arctic Sea
ice loss can lead to some extra evaporation of water vapor from the sea surface and saturation
of the atmosphere with water vapor. Due to atmospheric circulation, extreme temperature
anomalies and heavy snowfalls can appear in the following winter season in the lower
latitudes, according to a number of studies. Some warm winters in Eurasia and America are
associated with a situation in the Arctic where an extremely stable area of low pressure in the
vicinity of the North Pole was present during a long time period and did not let cold air masses
to move away from its borders. As a consequence, in most of the territory of Russia, USA,
Northern Europe, and Eastern Canada the temperature of the winter months was a few degrees
more than the usual one, for example in 2019/2020 winter months. The resulting destruction of
the North Pole vortex and coming of cold air masses to Eurasia and America lead to a cold
snowy winter.
1. Introduction
There is climate warming on the Earth, and 2021 was also one of six very warm years during the entire
observation period [1]. Especially tremendous warming goes in the Arctic. This causes shrinking of
the sea ice extent in the Arctic seas. Considerable Arctic Sea ice loss can lead to some extra
evaporation of water vapor from the sea surface and saturation of the atmosphere with water vapor
and, due to atmospheric circulation, cause extreme temperature anomalies and heavy snowfalls in the
following winter season in the lower latitudes, according to some works, for example, [2-3]. A similar
situation was observed in the 2020/21 winter season in Northern Eurasia. This induced low
temperature anomalies and heavy snowfalls with difficult consequences for the economy and the local
residents.
Especially, it appeared as a cold wave in European countries, accompanied by intense snowfalls on
April 14-15, 2021 after warming in late March - early April to 20 ° C; it is explained by intense
evaporation from the Barents Sea surface caused by a reduction in the sea ice area in the Arctic seas. A
similar situation was in March 2018, when a cold wave with snowfalls called “Beast from the East”
came to Europe, it is described in detail in [3]. A comparison of the situation in 2018 with the situation
in 2021 was also made in the essay “Snow chaos in Europe caused by melting sea-ice in the Arctic”
[4].
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IOP Conf. Series: Earth and Environmental Science 1023 (2022) 012006
IOP Publishing
doi:10.1088/1755-1315/1023/1/012006
2
This research, in particular, says that the April snowfall in 2021, which took place during the
flowering of fruit trees in Europe, may be directly related to the decrease in the sea ice area in the
Barents Sea in the Arctic and that a similar situation was in 2018. In the European part of Russia, after
a twenty-degree heat wave at the beginning of April 2021, on April 21, snow fell again on the
vegetation that had already begun its growing season.
The authors of a new study, [5], argue that warming in the Arctic will lead to colder winters in
some regions of the planet. Satellite observations over the past four decades have shown that the
global temperature rise has had a serious impact on the Arctic. Warming in the region is occurring at
double the global rate and is causing a rapid decline in the summer and autumn sea ice. The scientists
also found that the warming has disrupted the circular pattern of winds known as the polar vortex.
Studies [5-7] show that the warming in the Arctic has a significant impact on the winter weather in
both North America and East Asia. The authors detail the complex meteorological chain that links
these regions to the rotating cold air structure known as the polar vortex or polar cell.
According to the scientists, the ice melting in the Barents and Kara Seas, combined with the
increase in the amount of snow falling over Siberia caused by this melting, leads to an increase in the
temperature difference from west to east across the Eurasian continent. As a result of these processes,
additional heat enters the polar stratosphere, which destructively affects the eddy winds over the North
Pole. The heat expands the vortex, which then causes an extremely cold weather in places where it is
unusual, such as the southern states of the United States. The researchers' conclusions are based on
both observations and simulations using machine learning.
Since satellite observations started in 1979 the number of polar vortex expansions has increased.
The scientists believe that it was this process that led to a catastrophic cold snap in Texas in February
2021.
The authors prove that there has been a long-standing apparent contradiction between the warmer
temperatures globally, however, an apparent increase in the cold extremes for the United States and in
northern Eurasia. And this study helps to resolve this contradiction.
The authors also believe that their work may help improve the accuracy of forecasts of the onset of
extreme winter cold weather. This is important: in the same Texas, for example, people could be better
prepared if they received accurate warnings about the coming cold. Some people froze to death in their
homes this year; perhaps they could have found shelter in advance if they knew about the impending
disaster.
2. Materials and methods
Intensive warming goes, and 2021 was one of the six very warm years during the observation period
[1] (Figure 1).
CITES-2021
IOP Conf. Series: Earth and Environmental Science 1023 (2022) 012006
IOP Publishing
doi:10.1088/1755-1315/1023/1/012006
3
Figure 1. Values and anomaly of air annual temperature (January-
December) for 2021 and comparison with previous years and long-
term averaged values of 1991-2020
https://data.giss.nasa.gov/gistemp/.
Despite this rapid global warming, an unusual winter cold wave was observed in Eurasia around
1992-2012, whose cause is still unknown. By analyzing observations and model calculations, it is
shown in [8] that the winter cooling from 1992 to 2012, as well as the increased winter warming in
1971-1991 over Eurasia, were partly caused by internal multi-decade variations associated with
variations in the sea ice cover and the surface air temperature over the Barents-Kara Seas. The
variations of the sea ice cover and the surface air temperature of the Barents-Kara Seas coincide with a
decades-long trend towards an anticyclonic (cyclonic) anomalous circulation over the Ural Mountains
during 1992-2012 (1971-1991), advectively bringing cold (warm) air from the Arctic (southwest
Eurasia) to Central Asia, contributing to cooling (warming) over most of Eurasia in 1992-2012 (1971-
1991). These long-term variations of the Barents-Kara sea ice cover and surface air temperature
largely disappear, and the associated circulation anomaly and its effect on central Eurasia weakens
when there are no interactions of the sea ice with air, although a reduced decades-long cooling over
central Eurasia still exists in simulations without the interaction of the Arctic sea ice with air. As the
sea ice continues to melt, its ability to cause such variations and cooling over Eurasia will decrease.
CITES-2021
IOP Conf. Series: Earth and Environmental Science 1023 (2022) 012006
IOP Publishing
doi:10.1088/1755-1315/1023/1/012006
4
Figure 2. Sea ice extent in 2021 in comparison to long-term average.
Figure 3. Sea ice area reduction in Kara and Barents seas from 1980
to 2020 according to [9].
The sea ice area in the Kara and Barents Seas reduced by 2021 by more than up to 70% and 50%,
respectively, from its initial area in 1980 (Fig. 3). The sea ice area in the Kara Sea at the end of June
CITES-2021
IOP Conf. Series: Earth and Environmental Science 1023 (2022) 012006
IOP Publishing
doi:10.1088/1755-1315/1023/1/012006
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2020 was 450,000 km2 and less than in the 1980s, 700,000 km2. The sea ice area in the Barents Sea at
the end of June 2020 was 200,000 km2 and less than in the 1980s, 500,000 km2.
3. Results and conclusions
The air temperature in 2021 was high, and it was one of the six most warm years [1]. Especially
tremendous warming goes in the Arctic. The sea ice areas in the Kara and Barents Seas reduced by
2021 more than up to 70% and 50%, respectively, from their initial areas in 1980. The induced
shrinking of the sea ice extent in the Arctic can lead to some extra evaporation of water vapour from
the sea surface and saturation of the atmosphere with water vapour. Due to atmospheric circulation,
extreme temperature anomalies and heavy snowfalls can appear in following winter season in the
lower latitudes. The warming in the Arctic has disrupted the circular pattern of winds known as the
polar vortex. This induced low temperature anomalies and heavy snowfalls with difficult
consequences for the economy and local residents in Eurasia. Especially, it appeared as a cold wave in
European countries, accompanied by intense snowfalls on April 14-15, 2021 after a warming in late
March - early April up to 20°C and a similar situation in March 2018 when a cold wave with snowfalls
called “Beast from the East” came to Europe. This can be explained by intense evaporation from the
Barents Sea surface caused by a reduction in the sea ice area in the Arctic.
Acknowledgments
The work was performed under state assignments “Danger and Risk of Natural Processes and
Phenomena” (121051300175-4) and “Evolution of the Cryosphere under Climate Change and
Anthropogenic Impact” (121051100164-0).
References
[1] https://climate.copernicus.eu/surface-air-temperature-december-2021
[2] Wegmann M et al. 2015 Arctic moisture source for Eurasian snow cover variations in autumn
Environ. Res. Lett. 10 054015
[3] Bailey H, Hubbard A, Klein E S et al. 2021 Arctic sea-ice loss fuels extreme European snowfall
Nat. Geosci. https://doi.org/10.1038/s41561-021-00719-y
[4] https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2021/04/210413110628.htm
[5] Cohen J et al. 2021 White Linking Arctic variability and change with extreme winter weather
in the United States Science 373 issue 6559 1116-21 DOI: 10.1126/science.abi9167
[6] Platov G, Krupchatnikov V, Gradov V, Borovko I, Volodin E 2021 Analysis of the Northern
Hemisphere Atmospheric Circulation Response to Arctic Ice Reduction Based on Simulation
Results Geosciences 11 373 DOI: 10.3390/geosciences11090373
[7] Feng J, Zhang Y, Tsou J Y, Wong K 2022 Analyzing Variations in the Association of Eurasian
WinterSpring Snow Water Equivalent and Autumn Arctic Sea Ice Remote Sensing 14(2)
243 https://doi.org/10.3390/rs14020243
[8] Dai A, Deng J 2022 Recent Eurasian winter cooling partly caused by internal multidecadal
variability amplified by Arctic sea ice-air interactions Clim. Dyn.
https://doi.org/10.1007/s00382-021-06095-y
[9] https://nsidc.org/data/seaice_index
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