The spring of 2013 will be the coolest in 50 years in the British Isles. Two days ago, many parts of Upstate New York experienced a snowstorm, extremely rare for late May. At the same time, the Russian Arctic Station is being evacuated because the ice floe it is sited on has started melting much earlier than expected. So what’s happening? Why are the mid-latitudes unseasonably cold when the arctic is warm? The reason is that sea ice is melting very quickly across the whole arctic, flooding the northern oceans with cold water and keeping mid-latitude temperatures low. As arctic melt intensifies over the next few years, this effect will also intensify. It will be followed by a period of rapid and intense warming when sea ice is no longer present in enough quantity to provide this ‘air conditioner’ effect and methane now being release from the melting arctic causes the atmosphere to start retaining more heat. The change will take place over the next four or five years. During this period, abnormally cold weather in the US and Europe will gradually change to abnormally warm conditions, that will persist at least into the mid-century.

Keep up with developing climate change by visiting Unknowncountry’s Climate Watch.

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