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Cooling the Arctic is imperative

Cooling the Arctic is imperative

Rainy Britain

The Met Office says we are in for a series of wet summers. Correspondent John Nissen says cooling the Arctic is a priority. Photograph: Phil Walter/Getty Images

I read with dismay the announcement from the Met Office meeting that the UK could be in the middle of a cycle of wet summers which could last 10-20 years (Rain, rain won’t go away, 19 June). My dismay is because the Met Office has failed to acknowledge the likely strong influence of the loss of Arctic sea ice on northern hemisphere weather through rapid warming of the Arctic and disruption of jet stream behaviour.

As the chairman of the Arctic Methane Emergency Group, I presented this case to the environmental audit committee’s inquiry in early 2012. At first the Met Office rejected our case on the grounds that its models predicted that the sea ice would last for decades. But then we had confirmation of the thinning ice from Cryosat-2 and we had the record sea ice minimum in September 2012. The implications are that the Arctic will continue warming, but even more rapidly. This will further decrease the temperature gradient between the tropics and the Arctic – the gradient which drives the jet stream. So the jet stream will meander even more and get stuck with even greater regularity, bringing weird weather across much of the northern hemisphere, including long spells of wet or dry weather.

Hence, we are not in a cycle of wet summers at all, but in a downward spiral of ever-longer spells of “stuck” weather. How and where the weather will be stuck will not be easily predicted by climate models. Cooling the Arctic is now going to be extremely difficult – yet not impossible with a determined and international effort. It has to be done, in order to save the sea ice and protect the future of agriculture in northern climes.
John Nissen
Chair, Arctic Methane Emergency Group

• The incredible advance in space science and recent super-computer modelling informs us that the significant new factor in the chaotic history of Earth’s weather lies in the probability that chucking the highest volume of widely measured man-made carbon deposits and particulates into the air and oceans is the prime cause of recorded global warming. Modern denialists, for whatever vested or threatened reason, underplay this overriding scientific enlightenment. They still rely on reading the tea-leaf messages in the bottom of the cup.
Dr John Comerford
Horsham, West Sussex

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