Wildlife and environment
Scientists blame Arctic ice melting for cold summer in Russia
© RIA Novosti. Vladimir Astapkovich

Scientists blame Arctic ice melting for cold summer in Russia

Weather anomalies, including the cold and rainy summer of 2017 in the European part of Russia, are probably due to the shrinking ice sheet of the Arctic Ocean. This conclusion was made by researchers at the Arctic Hydrometeorology Laboratory of the Hydrometeorological Center of Russia. Together with their foreign colleagues, they analyzed the ice melting processes taking place in the Arctic Ocean and modeled potential climate effects. The results of their survey are published in the Environmental Research Letters journal.

The researchers blame ice melting on ocean currents that carry warm water from the Atlantic to the Arctic basin and the Barents Sea. Ice-free water areas intensively absorb solar energy and quickly warm up, releasing excess heat as well as moisture into the atmosphere. Air currents and storms subsequently redistribute heat and moisture throughout the Arctic, disturbing the energy balance between the ocean and the atmosphere. The researchers detected a considerable increase in Downwelling Longwave Radiation (DLR) which is infrared (heat) radiation emitted, above all, by water vapor and clouds and directed towards the earth's surface. A DLR increase heats up the Arctic sea ice causing it to melt.

The scientists noticed that heavy storms plus atmospheric movements significantly affect the ice sheet. For example, storm Frank that erupted in December 2015 was followed by abnormally warm temperatures in high Arctic latitudes.