Europe's wintry weather
February 6th, 2012
03:02 PM ET

Shrinking polar ice caps may be to blame for frigid Europe

Europe's deadly cold snap may have a lot to do with shrinking amounts of ice in the Arctic, a recent study suggests.

Nearly 300 deaths have been reported across the continent, with snow accumulations not seen in five decades reported in some places. Warsaw, Poland, has seen 11 days of temperatures well below average, with a coldest reading of 35 below zero Fahrenheit.

As warmer air rises into the stratosphere over the Arctic, colder surface air moves south bringing storms to Europe.

Scientists at the Alfred Wegener Institute for Polar and Marine Research in Potsdam, Germany, say the frigid, snowy European winter has its origins in a warm Arctic summer.

The U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration reported that July 2011 was the fourth-warmest July on record. A warm summer in the Arctic cuts the amount of sea ice. NOAA reports that sea-ice levels last July were the lowest in three decades.

The effect is twofold, the Wegener scientists report.

First, less ice means less solar heat is reflected back into the atmosphere. Rather, it is absorbed into the darker ocean waters. Second, once that heat is in the ocean, the reduced ice cap allows the heat to more easily escape into the air just above the ocean's surface.

Because warmer air tends to rise, the moisture-laden air near the ocean's surface rises, creating instability in the atmosphere and changing air-pressure patterns, the scientists say.

One pattern, called the Arctic Oscillation, normally pushes warm Atlantic air over Europe and keeps Arctic air over the poles.

But in mid-January this year, the Arctic Oscillation abruptly changed, allowing the jet stream to plunge into Siberia and push cold and snowy weather over much of Europe.

Similar situations have emerged the past two years.

Check out some more reports on what this winter's been like, both in the U.S. and around the world:

Frigid weather helps cost Romania's prime minister his job

What's behind America's warm winter?

soundoff (1,080 Responses)
  1. Amber

    The black plague was in 1348.

    February 7, 2012 at 10:17 am | Report abuse |
  2. George Harmes

    Is 2012, polar shifting is taking place... by the end of the shifting, Europe will be in the North Pole.

    February 7, 2012 at 10:17 am | Report abuse |
  3. aaron

    we are seriously going to look back at this time in our history and think why didn't we do something about climate change.

    February 7, 2012 at 10:18 am | Report abuse |
    • Greg

      The world has been cooling since 1998, Those scientists who are stuck on global warming have said there models are set until 2015 and will not back off there predictions of global warming until 2015, There models do not take into consideration the amount of solar radiation is absorbed into the ocean and reflected back into the atmosphere, So since the sun has moved into a cooling cycle, the oceans are cooling, so is the earth. So Unfortunately the world has not followed there models of higher global temperatures, in fact the global temperatures are dropping. This is a fact that is proven because its just a matter of record keeping, Folks you have to let go Of global warming, Its a theory that is not panning out. These scientist that have rang the alarm on global warming Have no choice but to hang on to there theory to the very end because there very careers hang in the balance.

      February 7, 2012 at 10:27 am | Report abuse |
    • John

      Cooling since 1998? So you have hard evidence of this proof?

      February 7, 2012 at 10:31 am | Report abuse |
    • Greg

      I researched this from a scientific perspective not a political one, This is a science issue, All you have to do is a little research and you will see there is a problem with Global warming, If it was a proven science There would be no argument. If for the last 10 years the temp had steadily risen as predicted then again today there would be no argument. But it hasn't, Thats the whole problem, So research this yourself because you obviously are following a political point of view here.

      February 7, 2012 at 11:00 am | Report abuse |
    • LeRoy_Was_Here

      Repeating for Greg's benefit: Greg, you're a scientific illiterate. A press release from NASA just a few weeks ago (on January 19, 2012): The global average surface temperature in 2011 was the ninth warmest since 1880, according to NASA scientists. The finding continues a trend in which NINE OF THE TEN WARMEST YEARS IN THE MODERN METEOROLOGICAL RECORD HAVE OCCURRED SINCE THE YEAR 2000.

      When the last decade has been the warmest decade in our records dating back to 1880, it is PATENTLY ABSURD to speak of 'global cooling'.

      At least TRY to get your facts straight.

      February 7, 2012 at 11:25 am | Report abuse |
  4. xetgib

    OK, global warming nuts!! At least tell us when the dirt on the ground is going to catch on fire.. All of you nuts seem to know alot about this hog-wash.give us a date, so after it is passed bye, we can start calling yall crazy!!!! at least tell us when the tip of FLORIDA is going to go under water. NEVER!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    February 7, 2012 at 10:19 am | Report abuse |
    • reddragon

      Aside from all the garbage in your post, I just wanted to point out that it's a lot, not alot.

      February 7, 2012 at 10:25 am | Report abuse |
    • John

      Who said dirt is going to catch on fire? Global warming is about the planet increasing in temperature by several degrees. Man, are you dumb.

      February 7, 2012 at 10:25 am | Report abuse |
    • paul

      The fact that you are asking a question like that shows you are uneducated. How can you pinpoint a date?

      February 7, 2012 at 10:26 am | Report abuse |
    • beefy

      thats funny considering it most likely used to be under water... nothing stopping it from happening again

      February 7, 2012 at 10:29 am | Report abuse |
    • Greg

      That's the whole problem with Global warming it hasn't increased in temperature its decreased. If it had increased steadily for the last 10 years as predicted there wouldn't be a argument, believe me I was a fan of Global warming thru the 90ties before it was even called called global warming. The temp was steadily rising, But in the late 90ties it shifted.

      February 7, 2012 at 10:32 am | Report abuse |
    • LeRoy_Was_Here

      Greg, you're a scientific illiterate. A press release from NASA just a few weeks ago (on January 19, 2012): The global average surface temperature in 2011 was the ninth warmest since 1880, according to NASA scientists. The finding continues a trend in which NINE OF THE TEN WARMEST YEARS IN THE MODERN METEOROLOGICAL RECORD HAVE OCCURRED SINCE THE YEAR 2000.

      When the last decade has been the warmest decade in our records dating back to 1880, it is PATENTLY ABSURD to speak of 'global cooling'.

      At least TRY to get your facts straight.

      February 7, 2012 at 11:19 am | Report abuse |
  5. xetgib

    IM WAITING

    February 7, 2012 at 10:20 am | Report abuse |
    • 500SmithandWesson

      When this stupid junk science is finally exposed and the global warming hoax imploads, Al Gore will go down as the greatest fool of his generation.

      February 7, 2012 at 10:32 am | Report abuse |
  6. xetgib

    I NEED A DATE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! EXPERTS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    February 7, 2012 at 10:21 am | Report abuse |
    • John

      You're an idiot! You have an explanation, but it isn't enough. Perhaps you can provide a better reason and saying it is a cycle is not a reason – just an excuse for lack of a true explanation.

      February 7, 2012 at 10:24 am | Report abuse |
    • nothing

      You are a complete idiot.

      February 7, 2012 at 10:30 am | Report abuse |
  7. Ultraconservative

    It's obvious isn't it? 99% of climatologists, all sworn to secrecy, making up stories about global warming, so that they can get funding and control the rest of us with their liberal agenda. They obviously have one goal in mind, to take over the world! (Cue the diabolical laughter). And the champions of truth and justice, the oil companies, are struggling so hard to get the truth out. Why? Well just because they're nice people and great Americans! And they're doing a great job, along with Rush and Hannity, because almost half of the average Joes on the street think there's a lack of scientific consensus. Hey did ya hear about Roswell? JFK's assination? How about 911? And, you know we never really landed on the moon, don't you?

    February 7, 2012 at 10:21 am | Report abuse |
    • Aviate

      Shhhhh! You're going to blow it. They already uncovered our clever plan to put a Kenyan, Muslim, Marxist in the White House....

      February 7, 2012 at 10:36 am | Report abuse |
  8. KAndrew

    Actually, the reason Europe is 'under snow' is because of one little thing...it's called WINTER. Snow and cold happens during this time...keep drinking the Koolaid, Gorites....

    February 7, 2012 at 10:22 am | Report abuse |
  9. Chris

    For anyone who cares to look at objective data, here is a graph showing the global temperate that goes back to anuary 2009. Note that currently globally, the Earth is running -.4C. Thats its lowest level as far back as this graph shows in 2009. Carry on...

    February 7, 2012 at 10:22 am | Report abuse |
  10. xetgib

    WSTOP IT SEE NN!!!!!!!!!!!

    February 7, 2012 at 10:22 am | Report abuse |
  11. JJ

    + Global Warming + record cold -80 degrees & record snowfall in Alaska (last I heard it is part of the USA see article above)
    record cold in Europe so the earth must be warming . . . . . LUNACY!

    February 7, 2012 at 10:23 am | Report abuse |
    • John

      Yes, because the warming of the Earth is as simple as just having record high temperatures. There is a lot more complex systems involved in what happens when the earth warms.

      February 7, 2012 at 10:28 am | Report abuse |
    • Aviate

      Minnesota – 4th warmest winter on record so far. Illinois – 6th warmest. Unprecedented 60+ degree January days in the upper midwest. Upstate NY having one of its warmest & least snowy winters ever. DC – 4th warmest Dec/Jan period ever. The list goes on.

      Nothing to see here folks, move along.

      February 7, 2012 at 10:44 am | Report abuse |
    • Greg

      Your just not getting it Global does not mean the USA, It means the Whole Earth folks, Just because we are having warmer winters in New York doesn't mean we are in Texas or Chile, or Germany..........Move along

      February 7, 2012 at 11:05 am | Report abuse |
  12. Stern

    30 years ago, scientists for funding and Ponzi scheme for the richest people in the world to make money off naive liberals said "in 30 years the world will be under ice". 30 years later, none of that happened as obvious.

    Now, they needed to come up with another excuse and global warming is that one. They are desperate to inject it in anything even when the global weather is getting colder and the temperature is falling globally. Yet, they want to keep using naive liberals to get their money.

    Naive liberals don't realize there is no scientific proof of global warming. It is quite the opposite. The scientists presenting the report to UN had admitted to fudging the data manually to make it look like the temperature is rising when in fact the real raw data showed the temperatures falling.

    February 7, 2012 at 10:23 am | Report abuse |
    • Aviate

      Guess you slept through the whole bit about the tobacco industry paying scientists to tell us cigarettes don't cause cancer, even when their own studies showed that...cigarettes cause cancer. Fool you once, shame on them, fool you twice...

      Yep, there's no scientific proof of global warming. Just like there's no proof cigarettes cause cancer. Or there's so much proof that even a leading climate change skeptic has changed his tune (oh, and all your claims about climate scientists fudging data are, well, another debunked conservative fantasy)...

      "UC Berkeley physicist, and longtime climate skeptic, Richard Muller has finally gone on the offensive, publicly admitting he was wrong to doubt global-warming data in a piece for The Wall Street Journal. The outspoken professor, who gained notoriety in the climate-denial community for his rants against Al Gore and fueling the fire on Climategate, decided to take matters into his own hands earlier this year by creating an independent study to assess specific objections raised by climate skeptics. Muller and a team of researchers working under the Berkley Earth Surface Temperature Project, analyzed more than 1.6 billion data points collected from more than 39,000 temperature stations around the world to find that their results were "close to those published by prior groups," including estimates from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.

      The evidence proved convincing, even to a habitual climate disbeliever.

      "Global warming is real. Perhaps our results will help cool this portion of the climate debate," Muller concluded."

      Read more: http://articles.businessinsider.com/2011-10-25/news/30319221_1_global-warming-climate-debate-climategate#ixzz1li6VTuAL

      February 7, 2012 at 10:30 am | Report abuse |
    • Aviate

      2010 was the warmest year in recorded history. 2011 not far behind. Minnesota just had its first ever recorded 60 degree day in January. Global temperatures are not falling, they're rising and at an alarming rate.

      You might as well try telling us that the Patriots won the Super Bowl & that Tom Brady was MVP, and then call us naive when we point out that it was the Giants & Manning who won....

      February 7, 2012 at 10:34 am | Report abuse |
    • Greg

      Globally 2010 was not the warmest year in recorded history, We are talking global here folks not per country. Globally the temp fell.

      February 7, 2012 at 10:38 am | Report abuse |
    • LeRoy_Was_Here

      Aviate: 2010 was not the warmest year in recorded history; 1998 was. However, there is this:

      A press release from NASA just a few weeks ago (on January 19, 2012): The global average surface temperature in 2011 was the ninth warmest since 1880, according to NASA scientists. The finding continues a trend in which NINE OF THE TEN WARMEST YEARS IN THE MODERN METEOROLOGICAL RECORD HAVE OCCURRED SINCE THE YEAR 2000.

      When the last decade has been the warmest decade in our records dating back to 1880, it is PATENTLY ABSURD to speak of 'global cooling'.

      February 7, 2012 at 11:57 am | Report abuse |
  13. Aviate

    But, but, but. Polar ice caps shrinking is consistent with global warming. And global warming is a myth. Because FOX News and the Koch Brothers told us so. Why isn't reality behaving the way conservatives want it to? Next thing you know, we'll learn that massive tax cuts for the rich don't create jobs, that Obama really was born in the US, and that there were no WMD in Iraq!

    February 7, 2012 at 10:24 am | Report abuse |
    • Greg

      It wasnt Fox new's at the UN last week telling the world Global temperatures are dropping. It was a SCIENTIST OOoooOOO so whats wrong with you liberals...

      February 7, 2012 at 10:40 am | Report abuse |
  14. dubrats

    global warming or another ice age which do you choose? does'nt matter, we can't stop mother nature, but we are stupid enough to think we can.

    February 7, 2012 at 10:24 am | Report abuse |
  15. Nuwan

    May it is time to send those Republicans to Siberia.

    February 7, 2012 at 10:24 am | Report abuse |
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