The Global Reach of Atmospheric Rivers: From the Arctic to Antarctica to the Equator and In-Between

The Global Reach of Atmospheric Rivers: From the Arctic to Antarctica to the Equator and In-Between / 2/10/23

The Arctic sea ice is near a record low extent and area for its winter regrowth, and the Antarctic sea ice is at a record low by a long shot. It turns out that Atmospheric Rivers – ARs, which carry vast amounts of heat and moisture in thin ribbons of air stretching 1000s of km, are reaching the two polar regions and acting like garden hoses carrying near boiling water to etch out the sea ice, and even the on-land glacial ice.

A new peer reviewed scientific paper on the Arctic was just published clearly showing that atmospheric rivers reaching deep into the Arctic in the winter (when the sea ice is reforming) are responsible for 34% of ice loss, meaning that when the summer melt starts to occur the ice is already extremely weak, thin, and fragile. In fact very little ice makes it from one year to the next.

The exact same phenomena of ARs was responsible for the large quantities of rainfall that hit California in late December 2022 and January 2023. It seems like only a matter of time before a massive AR series of storms has catastrophic effects on California food production by flooding out large parts of the Central Valley region as happened in 1861-1862z

In this video I chat about the global reach of these ARs. I discuss how Atmospheric Rivers can be affected by ENSO (El Niño- La Niña cycles) and abrupt climate system change.

Ref: More Frequent Atmospheric Rivers Are Hindering the Recovery of Arctic Sea Ice, by Columbia Climate School |Feb 6, 2023

‘“Arctic sea ice decline is among the most obvious evidence of global warming from the past several decades,” said lead author Pengfei Zhang of Penn State University. “Despite temperatures in the Arctic being well below freezing, sea ice decline in winter is still very significant. And our research shows atmospheric rivers are one factor in understanding why.”


About paulbeckwith

Well known climate science educator; Part-time Geography professor (climatology, oceanography, environmental issues), University of Ottawa. Physicist. Engineer. Master's Degree in Science in Laser Optics, Bachelors of Engineering, in Engineering Physics. Won Association of Professional Engineers of Ontario gold medal. Also interested in investment and start-ups in climate solutions, renewable energy and energy efficiency. Avid chess player, and likes restoring old homes. Married with children.
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