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Scientists in the Arctic, monitoring weather

What’s happening to our weather? The answers are hiding in Arctic air, Guardian,  Helen Czerski, 1 Sept 18, Dozens of scientists, Helen Czerski among them, are at work in the Arctic, seeking answers to questions that profoundly affect the future of everyone on the planet …….. For two months, the Swedish icebreaker Oden is home to 74 of us, living and working at the top of the world to tap into the stories that the blue and the white have to tell.


…….on this trip, the desire to go one step further is merged with self-preservation. The Arctic may be a long way from most of us, but what happens here matters to all of us. The weather up here is intimately connected to the patterns of weather further south, particularly the jet stream that feeds endless British conversations about the weather. As the sea ice melts, shipping routes are opening up across the Arctic, bringing questions about regulation and control over this previously inaccessible region. And this is an important area for many species, providing summer feeding grounds for visitors from the south. The Arctic may be a long way away, but it is woven into all our lives.
This scientific expedition was funded by the Swedish Polar Research Secretariat and the American National Science Foundation to answer a specific question: how does the ocean affect the weather in the high Arctic? It’s thought that material produced by life beneath the ice reaches and influences the clouds, but how does that happen and when?

Answers to those questions are essential to improve the weather forecasts for this region, and to allow us to predict the effects of the substantial changes in temperature and sea ice that have been observed.

Sea ice doesn’t just matter for its own sake. It has a strong influence on both the ocean and atmosphere, and the consequences tweak our planet’s energy budget. The solar energy that flows into the Earth system is mostly absorbed in the tropics, transported northwards by the atmosphere and ocean, and eventually re-emitted into space as infra-red radiation.

The Arctic balance sheet controls the final part of that process, and the keys to the energy flow through this vast icy wilderness are held by the clouds. Oden is a tiny speck in the white, drifting with the sea ice only a few miles from the north pole, perfectly positioned between the clouds and the ocean to watch and sample and learn………

Understanding this environment is slow work, but the need is urgent. This region is already changing very rapidly, and we cannot understand the importance of a change if we don’t understand the starting point. Expeditions like this are difficult and expensive to run, but the data they produce is essential. In the next couple of weeks, there will be plenty of news stories about the annual sea ice minimum, but less discussion about the specifics of why it might matter. If the ice changes, many other things will also change, and we need to predict the consequences. ……..https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2018/sep/01/whats-happening-weather-answers-arctic-air-oden-helen-czerski

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September 3, 2018 - Posted by | ARCTIC, climate change

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