Arctic Ice Decline Could Be Cause Of Frigid March


The decline of sea ice in the Arctic could be linked to this month’s long cold stretch in Wisconsin, says a climate scientist.

UW-Madison professor Steve Vavrus and a colleague at Rutgers University published a paper last year. It hypothesized that warming in the Arctic would affect air pressure and slow the jet stream patterns around the northern hemisphere, leading to more long-lasting weather patterns. The scientists also said the west-to-east river of air would meander more, and set up more extreme weather. Vavrus says there was record-low sea ice coverage in the Arctic last summer; then, over the winter , Russia had its longest severe cold snap in 75 years. And then, Vavrus says, there’s been this month in Wisconsin.

“We’ve also had a repeat of the very weak circulation patten: it’s ongoing. And we’ve just experienced a very cold month of March. We’re looking at the coldest march in southern Wisconsin in 35-40 years.”

Stay informed on the latest news

Sign up for WPR’s email newsletter.

This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

Vavrus cautions there is some natural fluctuation of the circulation patterns.

“But what we’re arguing the loss of sea ice loss is … loading the dice in favor of a more negative Arctic oscillation pattern.”

Vavrus says he’s a climate scientist, not a politician, but he says anything we can do to slow down the greenhouse warming effect that may be affecting the weather is a good thing. He says, otherwise, people will have to find more ways to adapt to the changing conditions.

Related Stories