In DepthClimate Change

Arctic ice loss not a big culprit in harsh winters

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Science  14 May 2021:
Vol. 372, Issue 6543, pp. 668-669
DOI: 10.1126/science.372.6543.668

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  • RE: Article misidentifies study as “landmark”

    This article claims that a new study “has delivered the heaviest blow yet” to the controversial hypothesis linking amplified Arctic warming to a higher likelihood of extreme weather events in midlatitudes[1]. The study, performed as a part of the new Polar Amplification Model Intercomparison Project (PAMIP), had not yet been through the peer-review process en route to publication, and only a short summary had been presented in a video session at the 2021 European Geophysical Union conference[2]. Moreover, not only did the article misrepresent some of the study’s results, but the title (“Landmark study casts doubt on controversial theory linking melting Arctic to severe winter weather”) implies that this one unpublished analysis, rather than the dozens of other peer-reviewed studies on the topic, substantially moved the needle in resolving the ongoing scientific debate about the hypothesis.

    Like many studies before it, this new analysis compared the mean atmospheric state over the Northern Hemisphere in conditions when the Arctic had extensive sea ice typical of years prior to the onset of human-caused global warming to those with much reduced sea ice. The investigators used monthly-mean data from the real world based on gridded reanalysis output, and they also analyzed simulations from a set of numerical climate models to compare the atmospheric state associated with past sea-ice amounts to those projected for Earth two-degrees-warmer than today. Atmospheric variab...

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    Competing Interests: None declared.

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