A team of Earth scientists from North Carolina State University, the University of Alaska Fairbanks, North Carolina A&T State University, and Sandia National Laboratories has found evidence that cyclones have become more frequent and stronger over the past half-century.
Their study is published in the Communications Earth & Environment journal. The team of scientists has focused their attention on Arctic cyclones. This came on the heels of the strongest known cyclone to ever strike the Arctic region last year.
To find out whether such storms are becoming more common, scientists gained access to a large number of data sets containing climate information about the Arctic since the 1950s.
They then conducted a comparative analysis of cyclones that have occurred over the past seventy years. As a result, they found that cyclones in the Arctic have been growing bigger and stronger. Besides, cyclones last longer than before. The team also found out that they have been happening more often.
There is a clear association between rising temperatures and cyclone formation in the Arctic, they said.
According to scientists, changes in temperature gradients play a significant role in the size and strength of forming cyclones, while changes in the jet stream are likely linked to the increase in their number, especially in winter. In addition, polar air vortices in the troposphere have been strengthening, leading to an increase in the number of cyclones during the summer period.
Unfortunately, as the number of larger cyclones increases, more sea ice breaks up in the Arctic, speeding up the process of climate change in the region.
The editorial board of The Arctic Century