North West Wales

Melting Arctic ice link to extreme weather explored

Prof Tom Rippeth in the Arctic Image copyright Josh Griffiths
Image caption Prof Tom Rippeth says the loss of ice cover will make the Arctic Ocean more turbulent

Melting ice in the Arctic could be the cause of extreme weather in the UK, a Welsh scientist has warned.

Prof Tom Rippeth from Bangor University is heading to the USA as one of the key speakers at a workshop examining the likely impact of the complete loss of Arctic Ocean ice in summer.

Experts say the Arctic is warming twice as fast as the global average.

Prof Rippeth said a more turbulent Arctic Ocean would have an impact on currents like the Gulf Stream.

The ocean physicist is one of 12 scientists invited to speak at an International Arctic Science Committee event in Massachusetts next week.

Low levels of sea ice in the Arctic have been linked to the increase in extreme weather events across the northern hemisphere in recent years, including a series of wet summers and severe winters in the UK.

'Great concern'

Prof Rippeth said ice cover was important in keeping the Arctic Ocean relatively calm compared to others.

"The great concern is that the removal of the ice will result in a more turbulent ocean, which will in turn affect what happens to the freshwater and heat within the Arctic and alter the currents linking the Arctic Ocean to the Atlantic Ocean," he said.

"The disappearance of the Arctic Sea Ice could, for example, impact on major Atlantic currents such as the Gulf Stream."

The Gulf Stream is the warm ocean current that starts near the Caribbean and follows the east coast of the USA before turning towards north-west Europe. It helps keep winter temperatures in the region higher than they would be otherwise.

The workshop aims to set research priorities to improve predictions of how the disappearance of Arctic ice will affect the rest of the world.

Image copyright NASA
Image caption Experts predict the Arctic Ocean will one day have no ice cover during the summer

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