Linking Arctic variability and change with extreme winter weather in the United States

Author: Cohen, Judah; Agel, Laurie; Barlow, Mathew; Garfinkel, Chaim I.; White, Ian

Description: The Arctic is warming at a rate twice the global average and severe winter weather is reported to be increasing across many heavily populated mid-latitude regions, but there is no agreement on whether a physical link exists between the two phenomena. We use observational analysis to show that a lesser-known stratospheric polar vortex (SPV) disruption that involves wave reflection and stretching of the SPV is linked with extreme cold across parts of Asia and North America, including the recent February 2021 Texas cold wave, and has been increasing over the satellite era. We then use numerical modeling experiments forced with trends in autumn snow cover and Arctic sea ice to establish a physical link between Arctic change and SPV stretching and related surface impacts.

Subject headings: Arctic; Climate change; Warming; Winter; Extreme weather; Polar vortex; SPV; Cold; United States

Publication year: 2021

Journal or book title: Science

Volume: 373

Issue: 6559

Pages: 1116-1121

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Serial number: 3902