Jennifer Francis on the implications of loosing Arctic sea ice

Today was the day that the Arctic sea ice extent of the NSIDC reached a new record low, since the previous record in 2007. The picture shows the observed sea ice extent (see the record in 2007), it is not updated with the recent record but as of today the black line should go lower than 2007. (The figure and full legend can be found at NSIDC).

This is of course important news, and the environmental journalist George Monbiot argued that this “disperses another belief: that the temperate parts of the world – where most of the rich nations are located – will be hit last and least, while the poorer nations will be hit first and worst.” He also points to a recent paper in Geophysical Research Letters, which “shows that Arctic warming is likely to be responsible for the extremes now hammering the once-temperate nations.”

The paper is: Francis, J. A. and S. J. Vavrus (2012), Evidence linking Arctic amplification to extreme weather in mid-latitudes, Geophys. Res. Lett., 39, L06801, doi:10.1029/2012GL051000.

Jennifer Francis recently gave this presentation at the Weather and Climate Summit, where she explains her findings. It is a really good presentation that explains the findings in an accessible way (sometimes the language is somewhat technical, which is understandable since it is aimed at the target audience of the summit, i.e., television weathercasters and meteorologists)

The presentation is about 60 minutes long, followed by a Q&A session.

This is Jennifer Francis’ biography at the Weather and Climate Summit website:

Jennifer Francis | Research Professor | Rutgers University

Jennifer Francis earned a B.S. in Meteorology from San Jose State University in 1988 and a PhD in Atmospheric Sciences from the University Washington in 1994. As a professor at Rutgers University since 1994, she taught courses in satellite remote sensing and climate-change issues, and also co-founded and co-directed the Rutgers Climate and Environmental Change Initiative. Presently she is a Research Professor with the Rutgers Institute of Marine and Coastal Sciences and studies Arctic climate change and Arctic-global climate linkages with ~40 peer-reviewed publications on these topics. During the 13 months from July 2009-July 2010, her family of four spent a year sailing through Central America. She and her husband circumnavigated the world in a sailboat from 1980-1985, including Cape Horn and the Arctic, which is when she first became interested in Arctic weather and climate.