Close Window
Bad Weather to Last Longer Under Climate Change: Study February 21, 2014
Satellite Image
The jet stream has slowed and become more erratic due to recent climate change. This is causing weather, pleasant and foul, to linger for longer periods of time.
Residents from North America to Britain, weary of ice, blizzards and catastrophic flooding this winter, may have to get used to weeks or even months of such miserable conditions on a regular basis.

That’s the conclusion of a Rutgers-NOAA study that found the jet stream is now taking a longer and more erratic path due to global warming.

The jet stream is a powerful, high-altitude river of air that transports weather systems around the planet.

It’s fueled by differences in temperature between the Arctic and the middle latitudes.

And because temperatures across the Arctic have been rising two to three times more rapidly than in the rest of the world, those differences are now less and causing the jet stream to slow.

This is resulting in weather that remains the same for prolonged periods, like in the barrage of blizzards that buried parts of Canada and the United States and the onslaught of oceanic storms that has swamped and battered Britain most of this winter.

“We can expect more of the same and we can expect it to happen more frequently,” said Rutgers researchers Jennifer Francis, speaking during a session on Arctic change at the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science in Chicago.

“Fundamentally, the strong warming that might drive this is tied in with the loss of sea-ice cover that we're seeing, because the sea-ice cover acts as this lid that separates the ocean from a colder atmosphere,” added Mark Serreze, director of the U.S. National Snow and Ice Data Center.

Graphic: NASA