But a new study reveals that the Arctic blasts of the past two winters in parts of Europe, Asia and North America were actually the result of thinning Arctic sea ice, melted by climate change.
Researchers from the Georgia Institute of Technology found that since the polar ice pack shrank to a record low in 2007, there has been significantly above-normal winter snow cover in parts of northwestern and central Europe, northern and central China and parts of the northern United States.
However, much of North America did buck that trend over the past few months.
“Our study demonstrates that the decrease in Arctic sea ice area is linked to changes in the winter Northern Hemisphere atmospheric circulation,” said Judith Curry, chair of the School of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences at Georgia Tech.
The research found that circulation changes resulting from less Arctic sea ice include more frequent episodes of blocked weather patterns, which lead to increased cold surges and snowfall over northern parts of the continents.
The study, published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, was funded by NASA and the National Science Foundation.