Warming Arctic Ocean Increasing Snowfall in Siberia

A new study found that climate change-induced impacts in the Arctic Ocean are increasing snow cover in several parts of northern Eurasia over the last decades.

What are the key findings of the study?

  • Several parts of northern Eurasia are experiencing increased snow cover over the past decades. This comes despite the high air temperature melting glaciers and polar ice caps.
  • Scientists have used a computer modeling technique to quantify the amount of water vapour that evaporated from the Arctic Ocean to understand the cause behind the excessive snowfall in western Russia.
  • This computer modeling technique depends on the “Japanese 55-year reanalysis dataset”, which reanalysed a global historic weather data over the past 55 years.
  • Global warming has increased the evaporation and retreat of the Arctic Ocean’s sea ice. Increased evaporation results in the rise in moisture in the Arctic atmosphere, which travels towards Siberia.
  • The computer model revealed that the moisture from the Arctic traveled over western parts of Siberia.
  • There was a high concentration of Arctic moisture in the region, especially in August. This coincides with the years experiencing strong southward-moving moisture. This movement became more prevalent after 1995.
  • Scientists also found that the evaporation in the Arctic Ocean and snowfall in Siberia are especially severe during cyclonic events.
  • These events have significantly increased from autumn to early winter from the years 1981 to 2019.

Why is this study significant?

The Arctic has warmed nearly 4 times faster than the rest of the world over the past four decades. The impact of this is felt in mid-latitudes, where extreme weather events are more frequent.

This study can help improve the predictions of abnormal weather events like heat waves, which increases the risk of wildfires. Increased snow cover in western Russia has increased the risk of summer heatwaves in Europe and Northeast Asia.

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