Skip to main content

Sign up for our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values. Direct to your inbox.


Flooding from monsoon rains has killed hundreds of people in India's Southern coastal state of Kerala in recent days. (Photo: NDTV/Twitter)

As Arctic Warming Stalls Summer Weather, Study Warns of Intensifying 'Very-Extreme Extremes'

"This is #climatechange, and the time to act on it is now."

Jessica Corbett

A new climate study out Monday in Nature warns that "accelerated warming in the Arctic" is stalling summer weather over North America, Europe, and Asia, and could lead to a future of even more "very-extreme extremes," including dangerous heat waves and flooding.

"While it might not sound so bad to have more prolonged sunny episodes in summer, this is in fact a major climate risk."
—Dim Coumou, Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research

"Giant airstreams encircle our globe in the upper troposphere—we call them planetary waves. Now evidence is mounting that humanity is messing with these enormous winds," explained co-author Hans Joachim Schellnhuber, director of Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK). "Fueled by human-made greenhouse-gas emissions, global warming is probably distorting the natural patterns."

As the study outlines, greenhouse gas emissions are causing rapidly rising near-surface temperatures in the Arctic, which are increasing two-to-four times faster than the rest of the globe. While past studies have focused on how this phenomenon, called Arctic amplification (AA), impacts mid-latitude winters, this research team focused on summers.

"This summer was where we saw a very strong intensity of heat waves. It'll continue and that's very worrying, especially in the mid-latitudes: the E.U., U.S., Russia, and China," study co-author Dim Coumou of PIK told the Guardian, warning about the impacts on agricultural production and human health.

The study's publication follows a series of devastating wildfires in Sweden, Greece, and California—where fires continue to force evacuations—and fatal flooding on India's Southern coast, where monsoon rains have just begun to ease. The recent extreme weather across the globe has caused climate experts to issue calls to actions and warnings about what's to come.

Greenpeace, responding to the report, concluded on Twitter, "This is #climatechange, and the time to act on it is now."

Since the temperature gradient between the Arctic and the equator drives the planetary waves eastward, as the Arctic temperature falls, the winds "slow down so the weather in a given region gets stuck," Schellnhuber explained. "Rains can grow into floods, sunny days into heat waves, and tinder-dry conditions into wildfires."

 "While it might not sound so bad to have more prolonged sunny episodes in summer," Coumou added in a statement, "this is in fact a major climate risk."

"Besides Arctic warming, there's also the possibility of climate-change-induced shifting of the storm tracks, as well as changes in the tropical monsoons," noted co-author Simon Wang from Utah State University. "Under global warming, the Indian summer monsoon rainfall will likely intensify and this will also influence the global airstreams and might ultimately contribute to more stalling weather patterns."

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.

'This Cannot Happen': Biden DHS Seeks Contractor for Migrant Detention Center at Guantánamo Bay

The solicitation for bids—which requires some guards who speak Spanish and Haitian Creole—comes as the administration is under fire for mass deportations of migrants, including thousands of Haitians.

Jessica Corbett ·

Global Vaccine Goals 'Fall Terribly Short' Due to Big Pharma and Rich Nations' Greed: Experts

"Wealthy nations are using up the world's vaccine supply, and developing nations are suffering and losing thousands of people every day."

Brett Wilkins ·

11 Senators Support House Progressives' Push to Pass Full Biden Agenda

"We voted for the bipartisan infrastructure bill with the clear commitment that the two pieces of the package would move together along a dual track."

Jessica Corbett ·

Ex-Prisoners Recall US Torture at 'Afghanistan's Abu Ghraib'

"It is psychologically hard for me to recall all that was happening," said one former Bagram Air Base inmate. "The torture was mostly done by Afghans, sometimes the Americans. But the orders came from the U.S."

Brett Wilkins ·

Rapid Shift to Electric Vehicles Could Create Over 150,000 Jobs in US by 2030

A new report says "smart" pro-labor policies by lawmakers would transform the "inevitable" shift to EVs "into a new beginning for U.S. producers and the rebuilding of a foundation for good jobs."

Kenny Stancil ·

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