Melting Sea Ice May Trigger Colder Northern Winters, New Study Says

From Yale Environment 360, Tuesday, November 16, 2010:

The steady loss of sea ice in the eastern Arctic could produce significant changes in the region’s atmospheric circulation, possibly resulting in a period of colder winters in the planet’s northern latitudes, even as the global climate warms, according to a new study. Using computer simulations to model decreases in sea cover in the eastern Arctic, scientists at the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research found what they called a “pronounced nonlinear response” of air temperatures and winds in the eastern Arctic. Specifically, the decrease in winter sea ice in the Barents-Kara Sea area, located north of Norway and Russia, may well direct colder winds over much of Europe. “These anomalies could triple the probability of cold winter extremes in Europe and northern Asia,” said Vladimir Petoukhov, a climate scientist and lead author of the study, published in the Journal of Geophysical Research. “Recent severe winters like last year’s or the one of 2005-06 do not conflict with the global warming picture, but rather supplement it.”