As the planet warms, people across Europe and Asia face double the probability of harsh, cold winters.
This finding, published Sunday in the journal Nature Geoscience, is based on a computer simulation study and is just the latest research tying declining Arctic ice with extreme weather.
The researchers, headed by Professor Masato Mori of the Atmosphere and Ocean Research Institute at the University of Tokyo, found that melting ice in the Arctic, Barents and Kara leads to atmospheric blocking patterns that pull cold air south over Eurasia and cause it to get stuck there, resulting in freezing winters.
“This counterintuitive effect of the global warming that led to the sea ice decline in the first place makes some people think that global warming has stopped. It has not,” said Colin Summerhayes, emeritus associate of the Scott Polar Research Institute, in a statement from Nature Geoscience about the research.
The study concludes that this trend is likely only temporary—projected to last a few decades. Beyond that, the researchers expect global warming to overtake the colder winters.