Political Animal


April 06, 2013 11:39 AM Climate Weirding in the Arctic

By Ryan Cooper

It has been a chilly March across much of the Northern Hemisphere, due to a blocking high pressure system that was stalled over Greenland. Climate Central explains:

As Climate Central has reported, the long-lasting cold was related to a strong blocking High pressure system over Greenland, which was associated with a particular configuration of an atmospheric pressure pattern known as the Arctic Oscillation, or AO. The AO is a measure of the difference in relative air pressure between the Arctic and the mid-latitudes, and the configuration of air pressure patterns can have profound impacts on weather patterns in the Northern Hemisphere…
The AO Index fell all the way to -5.6, which was one of its lowest readings on record, dating back to 1950. As this occurred, near record-breaking cold broke out in the U.K., which had its fourth-coldest March since 1962. Germany saw its coldest March since 1883, and Moscow had its coldest March since the 1950s, according to NASA and news reports.

However, temperatures have been correspondingly above normal in the Arctic. Compare Greenland to Europe in this NASA map (blue for below-average temperature, red for above):

And here’s a crazy unseasonable crackup in the Beaufort Sea:

At least over the next month or two, we’re supposed to have nicer weather. This summer could be a doozy.

Ryan Cooper is a National Correspondent at The Week, and a former web editor of the Washington Monthly. Find him on Twitter: @ryanlcooper


  • c u n d gulag on April 06, 2013 12:51 PM:

    I live in Upstate NY, and it seems like we don't have any real springs anymore.

    It's cold, then, one day, you go outside, and it's 80 damn degrees!

    No gradual warming, with things budding and greening in their order...

    In what seems like three days, everything buds - BAM! - and is green.