Barnes, Elizabeth A, Screen, James A

Wiley Interdisciplinary Reviews: Climate Change

Published date March 13, 2015

The impact of Arctic warming on the midlatitude jet‐stream: Can it? Has it? Will it?

  • States that the Arctic lower atmosphere has warmed more rapidly than that of the globe as a whole, and this has been accompanied by unprecedented sea ice melt
  • States that such large environmental changes are already having profound impacts on the flora, fauna, and inhabitants of the Arctic region
  • Investigates the open question as to whether these Arctic changes have an effect on the jet-stream and thereby influence weather patterns farther south
  • States that this broad question has recently received a lot of scientific and media attention, but conclusions appear contradictory rather than consensual
  • Argues that one point of confusion has arisen due to ambiguities in the exact question being posed
  • Frames inquiries around three distinct questions: Can Arctic warming influence the midlatitude jet-stream? Has Arctic warming significantly influenced the midlatitude jet-stream? Will Arctic warming significantly influence the midlatitude jet-stream?
  • Argues that framing the discussion around the three questions: Can it?, Has it?, and Will it? provides insight into the common themes emerging in the literature as well as highlights the challenges ahead
  • Finds that there is a growing consensus in the model-based literature that that Arctic warming can, in isolation, significantly influence the midlatitude circulation, this neither implies that it has in the past, nor that it will in the future