Oh, darn! Declining Arctic sea ice influences European weather — but isn’t a cause of colder winters

From the UNIVERSITY OF EXETER and the “department of dashed alarm hopes”, comes this surprising study, but alas, it’s just another model, so take it with a grain of salt.

Declining Arctic sea ice influences European weather — but isn’t a cause of colder winters

The dramatic loss of Arctic sea ice through climate change is unlikely to lead to more severe winter weather across Northern Europe, new research has shown.

A pioneering new study has explored how Arctic sea-ice loss influences the North Atlantic Oscillation (NAO) weather phenomenon, which affects winter weather conditions in Northern Europe, in places such as the UK, Scandinavia and the Baltic states.

Previous studies have suggested that Arctic sea-ice loss causes the NAO to spend longer in its ‘negative phase’ – generating more easterly winds that bring colder air from Scandinavia and Siberia to the UK. This might be expected to cause more frequent cold winters, such as the deep freeze experienced in the UK in the winter of 2009/2010.

However the new study, carried out by Dr James Screen from the University of Exeter, crucially suggests that Arctic sea-ice loss does not cause colder European winters.

Dr Screen suggests this surprising result is due to a ‘missing’ cooling response – meaning that the expected cooling brought about by more easterly winds is offset by the widespread warming effects of Arctic sea-ice loss.

The study is published in leading science journal, Nature Communications.

Dr Screen, a Senior Lecturer in Mathematics at the University of Exeter said:

“We know that the NAO is an important factor in controlling winter weather over Northern Europe”.

“The negative phase of the NAO is typically associated with colder winters. Because of this it has been reasonable to think that we would experience more severe winter weather if Arctic sea-ice loss intensifies the negative phase of the NAO”.

“This research indicates that although sea-ice loss does intensify the negative NAO, bringing more days of cold easterly winds, it also causes those same winds to be warmer than they used to be. These two competing effects cancel each other out, meaning little change in the average temperature of European winters as a consequence of sea-ice loss”.

The NAO phenomenon describes large-scale changes in atmospheric wind patterns over the North Atlantic. Importantly, the NAO relates to changes in the strength and position of the North Atlantic jet stream – a band of very fast winds high in the atmosphere. The position of the jet stream has a substantial impact on weather in Northern Europe.

Using the sophisticated UK Met Office climate model, Dr Screen conducted computer experiments to study the effects of Arctic sea-ice loss on the NAO and on Northern European winter temperatures.

Dr Screen added:

“Scientists are eager to understand the far-flung effects of Arctic sea-ice loss. On the one hand this study shows that sea-ice loss does influence European wind patterns. But on the other hand, Arctic sea-ice loss does not appear to be a cause of European temperature change, as some scientists have argued.”



95 thoughts on “Oh, darn! Declining Arctic sea ice influences European weather — but isn’t a cause of colder winters

    • The University of Exeter is one of the UK’s top universities… and completely independent of the Met Office. Though naturally being based in the same city as the Met Office there is a lot of research interchange.

      2 great, independent institutions of science in one small city!

  1. Someone reports that loss of arctic ice does not influence European weather adversely, and it get published?

    • Not only that but I can’t seem to find the CO2 claimer with the “worse than expected” tag.

      Someone just lost their research grant.

  2. Oh bugger; It’s that useless climate model again. OK forget this one guys and wait for the next one.

  3. Arctic sea ice has a rough 60 year full cycle. Nothing dramatic about the down cycle, nothing dramatic about the upcycle now under way (nadir was probably 2007; 2012 was cyclone related). And nothing about climate change as in the PR.

    • But the enthalpy of fusion…where does the heat come from? Isn’t there some form of energy balance?

    • Rud
      Did I read recently that you had an ebook on the subject, if so please provide a link.

      The first of the significant downward Arctic minimums was 2002, with a slight rebound, then more sea ice minimums.

      From my observations the cyclone in 2012 was due to the sheer volume of wind entering the Arctic. The same or similar occurred in 2016

    • “the upcycle now under way (nadir was probably 2007”
      You obviously haven’t been foolowing the trends or the current state of the ice that closely.

      The ice is currently (2017 max) is much thinner so this summer will almost certainly be another big drop on 2016.

      • You will most likely yet again be wrong, as you should have learned by now is always the case.

        Low ice years are followed by two to four high ice years, because the water has lost more heat to space. The low year of 2007 was followed by higher years in 2008-11, until similar WX conditions, ie August cyclones, caused another low in 2012, which was followed by higher ice in 2013-15. Thanks to El Nino, 2016 then tied 2007 for second lowest summer extent since 1979.

        Maybe you’ll luck out and be right this year, but that’s not the way to bet.

      • So your betting on a rise for the next 2-4 years? Good luck with that.
        And the 30 year trend is just a hangover from the LIA too right?

      • “tony mcleod February 28, 2017 at 4:16 pm

        And the 30 year trend…”

        On a ~4.5 billion year old rock. Good one Tony.

      • Tony,

        Yes. One of the many habitual errors of CACA acolytes is to extrapolate trends endlessly.

        Both the 2007 and 2012 Arctic sea ice lows caused cuckoo CACAists to predict yet more melting, but of course that didn’t happen. Maybe the 2016 El Nino was warm enough to override this pattern, but that’s not the way to bet.

        In any case, Arctic sea ice in 2017-46 is liable to be higher than in 1987-2016. But even if it isn’t, so what? Lower summer ice is a good thing.

    • Well, we are more than 60 years since the low point of the last cycle and extent is much lower than the low point of that cycle and the trend for the extent we have is down….

      Yes, there is a rapid and dramatic change continuing in the arctic.

      For most of this winter the extent has been lowest recorded for that time of year, there have been record high temp anomalies in the arctic and a series of storms have battered the ice.

      I will bet that (sadly) we see another in the top 5 lowest this September… a strong possibility of a new record low.

      • What do you mean? The lows of the last cooling cycle were in the 1960s and early ’70s. The recent high was in 1979. Before that the highs were in the 1920s to ’40s.

        Arctic sea ice is clearly bottoming out to anyone not blinded by faith in the Church of CACA. The record low was in 2012, with prior and subsequent lows about equal in 2007 and 2016. To a market chartist that’s a triple low and a strong buy signal. After ten years of bottoming, the way to bet is up over the next decade.

      • Five-year average annual Arctic sea ice extent:

        2002-06: 5.96 mln km2
        2007-11: 4.80 mln km2
        2012-16: 4.73 mln km2

        The next five years should be in the same ballpark as the past two such intervals. Bottoming behavior.

      • Also note that the present low extent results from now just three marginal areas, ie the Barents Sea off Novaya Zemlya, the Sea of Okhotsk and the Gulf of St. Lawrence. The formerly lagging regions in the southern Bering Sea and around Svalbard have filled in.

        Next year won’t enjoy an El Nino effect, so should return to normal.

  4. Incontrovertible proof that Arctic sea ice loss affects the weather, except for the times when it doesn’t.

  5. So….it’s colder where people are….and warmer where they aren’t

    odd how this planet is so delicate and unstable that a small insignificant change in insulation…surface ice….can kill us all

    • even more odd that 90% of it is under water…..and they worry about air temps
      …that is if it’s not PDO PDO PDO…


      • P’DO, P’DOOOOOOO
        P’DO, P’DOOOOOOO
        P’DO, P’DO — P’DO — P’DO — P’DO — P’DO
        P’DOOOOOOOOO — P’ P’ P’ P’ P’ DO!
        blah, blah, blah…AMOOOOOOO!
        Finis. (And what do you do when the finis ringing? Answer it! (hat tip: Peter Sellers)


        Thank you, Latitude! (that was fun :) )

      • lololol — thanks for sharing that, Bryan A.
        That one has fond associated memories attached to it, too. Smiling. :)

        That innkeeper reminds me of some of our trolls….. literally correct (at times), but waaaay off.

    • And Santa, who lives there, is the only one who knows for sure. But, he KNOWS, oh, yes, indeedy, he knows. That’s how Billy Circular Reasoning Nye knows (’cause Santa knows).

  6. Jeez, not another computer simulation. Oh, but it was done on a huge computer model and they burned years and years of CPU time and emitted tons and tons of carbon dioxide running it. It must be right. There’s obviously no question of the model’s validity. /sarc

    Curious…the last sentence above reflects the sentiments on both sides of the “fence”.

    I can’t find this article on the Nature web page…does someone have a link to the article, or is it paywalled?

    In addition to rules about reproducibility, these folks should be required to present raw, real-world data in support of the accuracy of their computer simulation results. Do they do that in this article?

    • Oh, but it was done on a huge computer model

      Yes, and don’t forget! It was a sophisticated computer model! :)

      • Probably not. But, the author has clearly heard of:
        “A Used Pre-owned Car Dealer’s Guide to Selling.”

      • It’s not just “a” sophisticated computer model Janice… it’s “the” sophisticated UK Met Office climate model we are talking about here.

        Since it has never successfully predicted anything before it almost certainly has got to be right this time. After all… random chance dictates that the odds against it being wrong yet again are simply too staggering to comprehend.

        For that reason alone I fully support their new finding.

      • Just think what more sophistication might have done for the TARDIS! Dr Who could have been powered by cell towers.

  7. Decreasing arctic ice causes colder winters.. ugh UGH.UGHHHHHHH

    So just in case a quiet sun causes a cooling Europe and NH, lets get in some nonsense to point to in advance.

  8. Since water is a lot warmer than ice, if the lack of ice does anything, it would make the areas around the arctic warmer, not colder.
    Which after all, is a good thing for those living there.

    • Could the current ocean oscillations and wind patterns be “steam heating” the sea ice away with extra relative humidity? (just a passing thought)

  9. This is the standard AGW and IPCC approach to think that because a correlation is run through a computer model it is magically transformed into cause and effect. They did it with the CO2 causes temperature increase. They programmed their models that way and then used the results to claim it was a cause and effect. The changes in Arctic sea ice conditions are a result of changes in the circumpolar vortex from zonal to meridional flow as are the changes in European weather and changes in the NAO.

    The question that people keep ignoring is what causes the changes in the vortex and Rossby Wave configuration. I suspect the reason it is ignored is because the most likely explanation is related to extra-terrestrial changes, in particular, fluctuations in the strength of the solar wind and its impact down through the atmospheric layers. One of the devastating effects of the entire IPCC fiasco is on the severe limiting of funding and research outside of CO2.

    • But, Tim, you must remember that the whole object of this exercise is to de-industrialise western civilisation and has been for the post-modernist environmental movement for the last 30 years.

      To do this you need to limit access to cheap, reliable energy and the simplest way to do this (and the most successful, as we have seen) is to demonise the one constant factor of all traditional energy production, namely carbon dioxide.

      Why “research” anything else when nothing else is relevant to the desired result?

    • Solar yes, but how?
      The earth’s magnetic field changes run in counter-phase with solar activity, this is particularly obvious in the strength of the Antarctica’s field ,

      correlation R^2=0.56 but for the three sunspot cycles integration (doted line) this increases to R^2=0.77
      Although there is some similarity with changes in global temperature, the case it is not entirely convincing. For the Arctic’s field strength the correlation is low.
      Strength of the Earth’s magnetosphere is directly related to the strength of the magnetic dipole (including both poles). When comparing the global temperature trend with the strength of dipole there is a credible but inverse correlation of R^2 = 0.81.

      This of course could be just an odd coincidence.
      However, there is very little doubt in existence another strong correlation, this time for the spectral power distribution between
      – 3000 year long data record from Dongge cave’s stalagmites (China) and
      – 3000 year paleo-magnetic data record (available from Helmholtz-Zentrum Potsdam – GFZ)

      Case for the cause or simply an association, despite the existence the strong correlations, is not readily obvious or currently available.
      It could be postulated that (considering inverse correlation): the weaker is the magnetosphere stronger is the solar magnetic penetration and hence warmer global temperature.
      I personally suspect that solar magnetic field variability (modulated but the changes in the strength of the earth’s magnetic dipole) affects the strength of polar vortex, which filters down to the strength or weakness of the polar jet stream, and so controlling the extent of its meridional excursions.

  10. It’s a great shame that the excellent geology department at Exeter, where I gained my geology degree, does not provide the climate alarm department with some real science. I can see the future now – “oh you’re from that university! “.

  11. A pioneering new use of the sophisticated UK Met Office climate model.

    Would that be the one that forecasts barbecue summers and gets torrential rain instead?

    • No.

      The model that creates the seasonal forecasts that are always wrong is 10 times less technologically advanced than the sophisticated UK Met Office climate model that always gets the future climate forecasts wrong.

      It’s only a matter of time before one of these models hits with a correct prediction. This might be it. If not they will need more money to buy a more powerful computer.

  12. Dr Screen, a Senior Lecturer in Mathematics …
    I thought that you were only considered to be qualified to comment on climate change if you were a ‘climate scientist’.

  13. Using the sophisticated UK Met Office climate model

    We produced the results that had been programmed into the model.

    These maroons never seem to get this obvious and irrefutable point!

    • I wonder if they have a simpleton model in the back room running on an 8088 with an 8 inch floppy disk?

      • Written in COBOL (no doubt). Here it is!

        Commodore 8088!

        “Saving file to disk…………………………………………………………………………………………………………….

  14. The change in climate here in Wales is producing some unexpected advantages. The regular floods have eroded areas of our local village stream exposing relics that have not been seen for hundreds or even thousands of years. This summer could weel be interesting as the Arctic hits a record low, I’ll keep you posted on what turns up.

      • Everything is caused by CO2. The computer models have proven it.
        Therefore thinking about other possible causes is a waste of time, and proof that you are a d#nier.

  15. Last years low sea Ice has the alarmists all alarmed with all sorts of predictions being made for an Ice free arctic in the near future. In this climate their are some who are delusional enough to bet for sensational ice loss is it wrong to take their money ?

  16. So once again skeptics are shown to be correct: low Arctic sea ice will have little impact on climate.

  17. When is the sea ice yearly extent going to start to increase again. No sign of that happening at the moment. I would say within the next 30-40 years at current melting rates, the will be zero sea ice at the end of summer in the northern hemisphere.

    • You mean highest.

      Lowest ever recorded temperature of any location on Earth’s surface was −93.2 °C (−135.8 °F) at 81.8°S 63.5°E, which is on an unnamed Antarctic plateau between Dome A and Dome F, on August 10, 2010.

  18. Is it not a very well-known fact ‘ Declining Arctic sea ice influences European weather — but isn’t a cause of colder winters’? Colder winter is obviously influenced by many other factors, e.g., influence from tropics, ENSO, stratospheric processes, etc. among many others. If those well-known findings are shown by model results (as models can show anything you desire), it is published in Nature journal !! What new thing is added to our knowledge out of such discovery! It is indeed a ‘pal review’ process, where important findings are suppressed (if from other authors outside the known circle) and very trivial findings are published in Nature kind of journal. It is indeed the time to thoroughly investigate the ‘peer review!’ system. Why real scientists are still quiet about the system of a review process that plays so important role in scientific progress?

    • Cold winter in Europe and America too is caused only by position of jet stream. Rule is simple: above, north of jet stream it is cold, down south of jet stream it is warm. This winter jet stream was located and still is located somewhere under Morocco and Egypt. Bringing cold winter to low latitudes, freezing fruits in Spain, snow on Italy and Spain beaches and snow in north Africa as this winter.

  19. Interestingly this winter has been mostly positive NAO, when we have had negative NAO it has been cold, like now (The NAO is still positive but on a downward trend). The interesting part is that the last two winters has been mild with positive NAO, the summers has been cold with negative NAO. It will be interesting to see how the summer plays out. But I think the NAO will turn negative when we get to the summer.

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