Tag Archives: Extreme winters

Arctic warming gives US and Europe the chills

The effects of Arctic climate change on the jet stream could mean harsher winters for some of the most highly populated regions of the world.

LONDON, 2 November, 2016 Warming in the Arctic – one of the fastest-warming regions on the planet – could be heightening the chances of extreme winters in Europe and the US.

As the Arctic warms, the stratospheric jet stream that brings occasionally catastrophic ice storms and record snow falls to the eastern United States could also be on the move, according to new research in the journal Nature Climate Change.

The phenomenon is a natural one. Some years the track of the jet stream is wavy, and delivers severe cold weather to the mid-latitudes of the northern hemisphere. Some years the pattern alters, and Europe in particular experiences mild winters. The temperate zones have always experienced occasional extremes. But climate change could be tilting the balance.

Extreme spells

“We’ve always had years with wavy and not so wavy jet-stream winds, but in the last one or two decades the warming Arctic could well have been amplifying the effects of the wavy patterns.

“This may have contributed to some recent extreme cold winter spells along the eastern seaboard of the United States, in western Asia and at times over the UK,” says Edward Hanna, a geographer at the University of Sheffield, UK, and one of a team of British, European and US scientists behind the study.

“Improving our ability to predict how climate change
is affecting the jet stream will help improve
our long-term prediction of winter weather”

The study doesn’t claim to settle the question: notoriously, climate is what you expect but weather is what you get, and it may be impossible to prove that this or that unexpected event happened because the global average temperatures are now at least 1°C higher than they used to be, before the human combustion of fossil fuels began to increase the concentration of the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide in the atmosphere from 280 parts per million to 400 ppm.

But there are changes in the Arctic that are happening because of global warming, and meteorologists have been watching the knock-on effect on the stratospheric winds, especially the jet stream.

In the same issue of the journal one group identified a persistent shift and a weakening in the Arctic winter polar vortex, a meteorological monster that plays a role in temperate zone weather patterns.

Others identified a link between Arctic changes and the speed of the jet stream, and its effect on transatlantic airline timetables.

Yet others have linked Arctic warming to dangerous extremes of heat further south, and yet another group has linked polar climate change to both ice storms and heatwaves.

Arctic signals

The debate continues. The important thing is to monitor the melting sea ice, the rising sea-surface temperatures and the emerging pattern of severe winter weather. If meteorologists can learn to read the signals from the Arctic, then communities could plan more effectively for the consequences.

“Improving our ability to predict how climate change is affecting the jet stream will help improve our long-term prediction of winter weather in some of the most highly populated regions of the world,” Professor Hanna says. “This would be highly beneficial for communities, businesses and entire economies in the northern hemisphere.

“The public could better prepare for severe winter weather and have access to extra crucial information that could help make life-saving and cost-saving decisions.” Climate News Network

The effects of Arctic climate change on the jet stream could mean harsher winters for some of the most highly populated regions of the world.

LONDON, 2 November, 2016 Warming in the Arctic – one of the fastest-warming regions on the planet – could be heightening the chances of extreme winters in Europe and the US.

As the Arctic warms, the stratospheric jet stream that brings occasionally catastrophic ice storms and record snow falls to the eastern United States could also be on the move, according to new research in the journal Nature Climate Change.

The phenomenon is a natural one. Some years the track of the jet stream is wavy, and delivers severe cold weather to the mid-latitudes of the northern hemisphere. Some years the pattern alters, and Europe in particular experiences mild winters. The temperate zones have always experienced occasional extremes. But climate change could be tilting the balance.

Extreme spells

“We’ve always had years with wavy and not so wavy jet-stream winds, but in the last one or two decades the warming Arctic could well have been amplifying the effects of the wavy patterns.

“This may have contributed to some recent extreme cold winter spells along the eastern seaboard of the United States, in western Asia and at times over the UK,” says Edward Hanna, a geographer at the University of Sheffield, UK, and one of a team of British, European and US scientists behind the study.

“Improving our ability to predict how climate change
is affecting the jet stream will help improve
our long-term prediction of winter weather”

The study doesn’t claim to settle the question: notoriously, climate is what you expect but weather is what you get, and it may be impossible to prove that this or that unexpected event happened because the global average temperatures are now at least 1°C higher than they used to be, before the human combustion of fossil fuels began to increase the concentration of the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide in the atmosphere from 280 parts per million to 400 ppm.

But there are changes in the Arctic that are happening because of global warming, and meteorologists have been watching the knock-on effect on the stratospheric winds, especially the jet stream.

In the same issue of the journal one group identified a persistent shift and a weakening in the Arctic winter polar vortex, a meteorological monster that plays a role in temperate zone weather patterns.

Others identified a link between Arctic changes and the speed of the jet stream, and its effect on transatlantic airline timetables.

Yet others have linked Arctic warming to dangerous extremes of heat further south, and yet another group has linked polar climate change to both ice storms and heatwaves.

Arctic signals

The debate continues. The important thing is to monitor the melting sea ice, the rising sea-surface temperatures and the emerging pattern of severe winter weather. If meteorologists can learn to read the signals from the Arctic, then communities could plan more effectively for the consequences.

“Improving our ability to predict how climate change is affecting the jet stream will help improve our long-term prediction of winter weather in some of the most highly populated regions of the world,” Professor Hanna says. “This would be highly beneficial for communities, businesses and entire economies in the northern hemisphere.

“The public could better prepare for severe winter weather and have access to extra crucial information that could help make life-saving and cost-saving decisions.” Climate News Network

Winter's unpredictability 'kills birds'

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
It is not just the extreme cold that birds have had to cope with in recent British winters, scientists have found, but the unpredictability with which the weather often now changes.

LONDON, 22 April – If the weather turns cold humans put on extra clothes while birds build a bigger, snugger nest to keep them warm while incubating their eggs.

But birds have to sit on their eggs for two weeks or more to hatch them and can be caught out by rapidly changing weather conditions, badly affecting their breeding success, scientists have discovered.

Researchers at the University of Lincoln in the east of England believe that climate change, with its unpredictable weather patterns, poses a serious risk for birds during this critical period. The incubating eggs have to be kept at a constant temperature if the chicks are to develop and hatch successfully.

Dr Charles Deeming, senior lecturer at the University, writing in the April edition of the Society of Biology’s magazine, The Biologist, has been studying the construction of the nests of blue and great tits in nest boxes on the campus at Riseholme Park.

Individual birds built completely different nests each year depending on the weather at the time of construction. In a cold spell the nest was much heavier and lined with moss or sheep’s wool, while in warm weather a light and poorly-insulated nest was regarded as adequate. The first egg was laid as soon as the nest was complete.

“Over the last few years scientific interest in nests has increased, with studies ranging from nest composition, construction behaviour and thermal properties, to the use of nests as potential signals to mates”, Dr. Deeming says. He came to the conclusion that the function of the extra lining was to keep the tiny birds warm while they were incubating their eggs.

The problem is the unexpected

 

The problem for the birds is that in Britain the spring weather has been particularly unpredictable in the last two years. In both 2011 and 2012 early spells of warm weather were followed by much lower temperatures. The result on the Riseholme campus was a devastating effect on reproductive success.

While the blue and great tits use a variety of materials for nest construction, some species rely on particular plants to line their breeding quarters.  Dr. Deeming says that if climate change causes these plants to become extinct locally it could affect the birds’ breeding success, and he concludes that more study is needed to find out how local climate can affect nest construction and so reproductive success.

Dr Mark Downs, chief executive of the Society of Biology, said: “Climate change will have a large effect on our ecosystems and food production, and Dr Deeming’s research is one of many studies demonstrating that the effects will be complex and difficult to predict. It is essential that we continue to study how organisms adapt to climate change and how we can best mitigate its effects.” – Climate News Network

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
It is not just the extreme cold that birds have had to cope with in recent British winters, scientists have found, but the unpredictability with which the weather often now changes.

LONDON, 22 April – If the weather turns cold humans put on extra clothes while birds build a bigger, snugger nest to keep them warm while incubating their eggs.

But birds have to sit on their eggs for two weeks or more to hatch them and can be caught out by rapidly changing weather conditions, badly affecting their breeding success, scientists have discovered.

Researchers at the University of Lincoln in the east of England believe that climate change, with its unpredictable weather patterns, poses a serious risk for birds during this critical period. The incubating eggs have to be kept at a constant temperature if the chicks are to develop and hatch successfully.

Dr Charles Deeming, senior lecturer at the University, writing in the April edition of the Society of Biology’s magazine, The Biologist, has been studying the construction of the nests of blue and great tits in nest boxes on the campus at Riseholme Park.

Individual birds built completely different nests each year depending on the weather at the time of construction. In a cold spell the nest was much heavier and lined with moss or sheep’s wool, while in warm weather a light and poorly-insulated nest was regarded as adequate. The first egg was laid as soon as the nest was complete.

“Over the last few years scientific interest in nests has increased, with studies ranging from nest composition, construction behaviour and thermal properties, to the use of nests as potential signals to mates”, Dr. Deeming says. He came to the conclusion that the function of the extra lining was to keep the tiny birds warm while they were incubating their eggs.

The problem is the unexpected

 

The problem for the birds is that in Britain the spring weather has been particularly unpredictable in the last two years. In both 2011 and 2012 early spells of warm weather were followed by much lower temperatures. The result on the Riseholme campus was a devastating effect on reproductive success.

While the blue and great tits use a variety of materials for nest construction, some species rely on particular plants to line their breeding quarters.  Dr. Deeming says that if climate change causes these plants to become extinct locally it could affect the birds’ breeding success, and he concludes that more study is needed to find out how local climate can affect nest construction and so reproductive success.

Dr Mark Downs, chief executive of the Society of Biology, said: “Climate change will have a large effect on our ecosystems and food production, and Dr Deeming’s research is one of many studies demonstrating that the effects will be complex and difficult to predict. It is essential that we continue to study how organisms adapt to climate change and how we can best mitigate its effects.” – Climate News Network

Winter’s unpredictability ‘kills birds’

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE It is not just the extreme cold that birds have had to cope with in recent British winters, scientists have found, but the unpredictability with which the weather often now changes. LONDON, 22 April – If the weather turns cold humans put on extra clothes while birds build a bigger, snugger nest to keep them warm while incubating their eggs. But birds have to sit on their eggs for two weeks or more to hatch them and can be caught out by rapidly changing weather conditions, badly affecting their breeding success, scientists have discovered. Researchers at the University of Lincoln in the east of England believe that climate change, with its unpredictable weather patterns, poses a serious risk for birds during this critical period. The incubating eggs have to be kept at a constant temperature if the chicks are to develop and hatch successfully. Dr Charles Deeming, senior lecturer at the University, writing in the April edition of the Society of Biology’s magazine, The Biologist, has been studying the construction of the nests of blue and great tits in nest boxes on the campus at Riseholme Park. Individual birds built completely different nests each year depending on the weather at the time of construction. In a cold spell the nest was much heavier and lined with moss or sheep’s wool, while in warm weather a light and poorly-insulated nest was regarded as adequate. The first egg was laid as soon as the nest was complete. “Over the last few years scientific interest in nests has increased, with studies ranging from nest composition, construction behaviour and thermal properties, to the use of nests as potential signals to mates”, Dr. Deeming says. He came to the conclusion that the function of the extra lining was to keep the tiny birds warm while they were incubating their eggs.

The problem is the unexpected

  The problem for the birds is that in Britain the spring weather has been particularly unpredictable in the last two years. In both 2011 and 2012 early spells of warm weather were followed by much lower temperatures. The result on the Riseholme campus was a devastating effect on reproductive success. While the blue and great tits use a variety of materials for nest construction, some species rely on particular plants to line their breeding quarters.  Dr. Deeming says that if climate change causes these plants to become extinct locally it could affect the birds’ breeding success, and he concludes that more study is needed to find out how local climate can affect nest construction and so reproductive success. Dr Mark Downs, chief executive of the Society of Biology, said: “Climate change will have a large effect on our ecosystems and food production, and Dr Deeming’s research is one of many studies demonstrating that the effects will be complex and difficult to predict. It is essential that we continue to study how organisms adapt to climate change and how we can best mitigate its effects.” – Climate News Network

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE It is not just the extreme cold that birds have had to cope with in recent British winters, scientists have found, but the unpredictability with which the weather often now changes. LONDON, 22 April – If the weather turns cold humans put on extra clothes while birds build a bigger, snugger nest to keep them warm while incubating their eggs. But birds have to sit on their eggs for two weeks or more to hatch them and can be caught out by rapidly changing weather conditions, badly affecting their breeding success, scientists have discovered. Researchers at the University of Lincoln in the east of England believe that climate change, with its unpredictable weather patterns, poses a serious risk for birds during this critical period. The incubating eggs have to be kept at a constant temperature if the chicks are to develop and hatch successfully. Dr Charles Deeming, senior lecturer at the University, writing in the April edition of the Society of Biology’s magazine, The Biologist, has been studying the construction of the nests of blue and great tits in nest boxes on the campus at Riseholme Park. Individual birds built completely different nests each year depending on the weather at the time of construction. In a cold spell the nest was much heavier and lined with moss or sheep’s wool, while in warm weather a light and poorly-insulated nest was regarded as adequate. The first egg was laid as soon as the nest was complete. “Over the last few years scientific interest in nests has increased, with studies ranging from nest composition, construction behaviour and thermal properties, to the use of nests as potential signals to mates”, Dr. Deeming says. He came to the conclusion that the function of the extra lining was to keep the tiny birds warm while they were incubating their eggs.

The problem is the unexpected

  The problem for the birds is that in Britain the spring weather has been particularly unpredictable in the last two years. In both 2011 and 2012 early spells of warm weather were followed by much lower temperatures. The result on the Riseholme campus was a devastating effect on reproductive success. While the blue and great tits use a variety of materials for nest construction, some species rely on particular plants to line their breeding quarters.  Dr. Deeming says that if climate change causes these plants to become extinct locally it could affect the birds’ breeding success, and he concludes that more study is needed to find out how local climate can affect nest construction and so reproductive success. Dr Mark Downs, chief executive of the Society of Biology, said: “Climate change will have a large effect on our ecosystems and food production, and Dr Deeming’s research is one of many studies demonstrating that the effects will be complex and difficult to predict. It is essential that we continue to study how organisms adapt to climate change and how we can best mitigate its effects.” – Climate News Network