Will Declining Arctic Ice Make UK Winters Colder?
By Paul Homewood
There have been various claims recently that the shrinking of Arctic ice could be acting to make our winters colder and snowier. The arguments usually centre around changing jet streams and atmospheric blocking patterns.
We looked at one such claim last month, which had failed to explain that the same blocking patterns, that their models theorised about, had been found back in the 1960’s and had, according to scientists such as HH Lamb, been caused by expanding Arctic ice!
The BBC also reported earlier in the year about another study by Jiping Liu of the Georgia Institute of Technology, which made similar claims.
Forecasts of terrible winters, of course, are not new. In October last year, we were confidently told by the Daily Mail and others that we were in for another freezing winter. In the event the UK ended up having a pretty mild one!
The claims seem to centre around the fact that cold, snowy winters have become more prevalent, both in the UK as well as the US and Europe, in the last few years since the deterioration of ice cover in 2007. A whole 5 years! Are they seriously making assumptions and projections around such a short span of time?
Still, giving them the benefit of the doubt, how do recent UK winters compare to earlier ones, particularly the 1960’s and 70’s, when the Arctic was becoming colder and ice expanding?
Clearly, recent cold winters are nothing unusual, when compared with earlier decades. What was unusual was the run of mild winters during the 1990’s and early 2000’s. It is also worth noting that the variability from one year to the next, which has been seen recently, is not unusual in the slightest. The record cold winter of 1962/63 was sandwiched between two mild winters. Similarly with 1978/79 and other years. There is nothing weird about it, it’s just weather.
Figure 2 takes the analysis back to 1911. While recent winters have not been as mild, on the whole, as those of 1995-2005, they have not been unusual in comparison with earlier ones.
Indeed, over the last century, the most remarkable thing about our winter climate is that so little has actually changed.