Greater climate fluctuations in an increasingly warmer North Polar region

Much like the fluctuations in daily weather, the climate is subject to changes. Despite a gradual increase in average global temperatures, we still experience colder and warmer years. Research conducted by the Royal Netherlands Meteorological Institute (KNMI) and Wageningen University & Research has shown that temperature variations in the Arctic region may increase as the climate gets warmer. The rise in CO2 and other greenhouse gasses can temporarily strengthen or weaken rising temperatures over a period of ten years or longer. This was found by running simulations using the global climate model EC-Earth with double CO2 levels.

Promovendus ms. EC (Eveline) van der Linden MSc
Promotor W (Wilco) Hazeleger
Copromotor dr. R Bintanja
Organisatie Wageningen University, Meteorology and Air Quality

wo 21 december 2016 13:30 tot 15:00

Locatie Auditorium, building number 362
Generaal Foulkesweg 1
6703 BG Wageningen

The average global temperature has increased in recent decades, largely as a result of the greenhouse effect caused by human activity. These rising temperatures are due to the increase of atmospheric CO2 and other greenhouse gasses. However, temperatures are not rising at the same rate in all parts of the world; they are rising faster in the Arctic region. More importantly, this region also shows greater variations in temperature than other regions. This rapid rise in temperature and variability is making a significant impact on the climate and living conditions in the Arctic region. The large-scale weather patterns are adapting to this, causing the weather to change in more temperate climate zones, like the Netherlands.

Arctic climate change can affect the rest of the world by increasing the likelihood of extreme weather conditions, such as heatwaves, cold snaps, droughts and floods.

In our current climate, the biggest temperature variations can be found in the Barents Sea. According to model calculations, maximum variations and higher temperatures will push the area further north towards the centre of the Arctic Ocean. This is caused by the edge of the ice shelf (where the sea ice and the ocean meet) pushing further northwards. The surrounding continents will no longer form a barrier, which will give the sea ice more room and cause it to fluctuate in size. This climate mechanism helps to explain some of the increasing temperature variations in a warmer climate.

Climate researcher Eveline van der Linden from the Royal Netherlands Meteorological Institute (KNMI) will defend her dissertation titled, 'Arctic climate change and decadal variability' on 21 December at Wageningen University & Research.