|Influence of Arctic sea ice on European summer precipitation|In: Environmental Research Letters. IOP Publishing: Bristol. ISSN 1748-9326, more
Arctic sea ice, European climate, Arctic—mid-latitude linkages, precipitation, jet stream, stationary wave
The six summers from 2007 to 2012 were all wetter than average over northern Europe. Although none of these individual events are unprecedented in historical records, the sequence of six consecutive wet summers is extraordinary. Composite analysis reveals that observed wet summer months in northern Europe tend to occur when the jet stream is displaced to the south of its climatological position, whereas dry summer months tend to occur when the jet stream is located further north. Highly similar mechanisms are shown to drive simulated precipitation anomalies in an atmospheric model. The model is used to explore the influence of Arctic sea ice on European summer climate, by prescribing different sea ice conditions, but holding other forcings constant. In the simulations, Arctic sea ice loss induces a southward shift of the summer jet stream over Europe and increased northern European precipitation. The simulated precipitation response is relatively small compared to year-to-year variability, but is statistically significant and closely resembles the spatial pattern of precipitation anomalies in recent summers. The results suggest a causal link between observed sea ice anomalies, large-scale atmospheric circulation and increased summer rainfall over northern Europe. Thus, diminished Arctic sea ice may have been a contributing driver of recent wet summers.