Higher average temperatures in the Arctic have led to a pattern of more severe winter weather — think nor’easters, blizzards, bomb cyclones and polar vortexes — in the Northeastern U.S., an analysis of over 66 years worth of climate data found.
These extreme winters were also detected in other parts of the Northern Hemisphere, like northern Europe and Asia, but the study, published Wednesday in the journal Nature Communications, revealed this effect to be the most profound in America’s Northeast corner. The region showed to be two to four times more likely than the rest of the world to experience particularly punishing winters.
The researchers saw that moments of warmth in the Arctic during the winter months showed a “really, really strong” increase in the number of severe winter storms and temperatures in the northern half of the world.
“I’d argue that our expectations for climate change were overly simplistic,” the study’s lead author, Judah Cohen, told LiveScience. “It was kind of expected that if you warm the Arctic, the only thing that’s going to lead to is just milder temperatures everywhere — and that’s not a complete picture.”
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