Skip to main content

Sign up for our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values. Direct to your inbox.

Burgerbukta Glacier in the Arctic. Warmer temperatures in the Arctic have helped to cause extreme winter weather conditions, like the snowstorm experienced on the United States' East Coast on Tuesday.(Photo: Gary Bembridge/Flickr/cc)

Extreme Winter Weather Across US and Europe Linked to Unusually Warm Arctic Temperatures

"This winter is a great example of what we can expect from climate change."

Julia Conley

As both those in North America and Europea have experienced bitter cold snaps and heavy snowfall this winter, climate scientists have recorded an exceptionally warm season in the Arctic Circle and researchers say that while global warming has caused warmer temperatures around the globe overall there is also a strong link between the climate crisis and extreme winter weather events.

"This winter is a great example of what we can expect from climate change," Judah Cohen, a climate scientist at Atmospheric and Environmental Research, told  the Guardian. "In the U.S. we had the 'bomb cyclone' in January, followed by July-like warm weather in February that I'd never seen before. And now we've had a parade of powerful winter storms and the beast from the east. It's mind boggling."

Cohen's research was published by Nature Communications on Tuesday ust as the U.S. East Coast was hit by its third severe snowstorm in ten days. As CNN notes, the study "found that major winter storms were two to four times more likely when the Arctic is abnormally warm, compared to when it was abnormally cold."

This week's severe weather followed some of the longest-lasting warm weather ever recorded in the Arctic Circle in the month of February, with more than 60 hours of above-freezing temperatures logged. As Common Dreams  reported last week, scientists had previously only observed the temperature climbing above freezing twice in February, both for short periods of time. 

The new research out Tuesay suggests that the polar vortex has been disrupted by the warming of the globe. Warming temperatures have weakened the low pressure system's flow, argue climate scientists, causing it to drift southward from the polar region—and to bring cold Arctic air along with it.


Our work is licensed under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0). Feel free to republish and share widely.

This is the world we live in. This is the world we cover.

Because of people like you, another world is possible. There are many battles to be won, but we will battle them together—all of us. Common Dreams is not your normal news site. We don't survive on clicks. We don't want advertising dollars. We want the world to be a better place. But we can't do it alone. It doesn't work that way. We need you. If you can help today—because every gift of every size matters—please do. Without Your Support We Simply Don't Exist.

Nearly 50 Groups Demand Passage of Amendments to Cut Pentagon Budget

"Pouring billions more into the military, far beyond even the level requested by President Biden, sends exactly the wrong message at this moment in history."

Andrea Germanos ·


Experts to Biden: Strongarm Big Pharma to Erase 'Moral Stain' of Vaccine Apartheid

"Every day that goes by, another roughly 10,000 people are lost to this disease—what are governments with the power to change this horrific statistic waiting for?"

Jake Johnson ·


'We Are Trying to Save It,' Progressives Say as Right-Wing Dems Sabotage Biden's Agenda

"The Biden agenda—our Democratic agenda—is at stake. It's progressives who are fighting to pass it in its entirety."

Jake Johnson ·


Bush and Warren Lead New Bill to Protect Renters Nationwide From Eviction

"This pandemic isn't over, and we have to do everything we can to protect renters from the harm and trauma of needless eviction, which upends the lives of those struggling to get back on their feet."

Jessica Corbett ·


Campaign Slams Vaccine Makers for Fueling 'Unprecedented' Human Rights Crisis

"Covid-19 vaccines must be readily available and accessible for all. It is up to governments and pharma companies to make this a reality."

Brett Wilkins ·

Support our work.

We are independent, non-profit, advertising-free and 100% reader supported.

Subscribe to our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values.
Direct to your inbox.

Subscribe to our Newsletter.


Common Dreams, Inc. Founded 1997. Registered 501(c3) Non-Profit | Privacy Policy
Common Dreams Logo