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Scientists Find Possible Link Between US Tornadoes And Melting Sea Ice In The Arctic

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Researchers from the University of Illinois have found a potential link between tornadoes in the United States and sea ice in the Arctic. The study seeks to explain decreased tornado activity using climate and weather data gathered over a 30-year period.  ( Peter Fischer | Pixabay )

Climate change is bringing about massive changes to the planet. As temperatures keep on rising, scientists are growing more concerned about the possibility of temperatures exceeding human tolerances.

Aside from rising sea levels, experts are investigating the possible links between climate change, increasing suicide rates, and the possibility of releasing diseases and organisms that have been trapped in ice for thousands of years back into the wild.

A recent study conducted by researchers from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign hints at a potential link between Arctic sea ice and Tornado activity in the United States.

In the past 10 years alone, the United States experienced a slew of severe weather-related changes. The new study is investigating the reason why there has been an observable decline in tornado touchdown numbers, particularly in the month of July.

The findings show that the cause of these changes may lie in the correlation between melting ice in the Arctic and changing atmospheric circulation conditions.

Mounting Evidence Linking Arctic Sea Ice And US Tornadoes

"A relationship between Arctic sea ice and tornadoes in the U.S. may seem unlikely," shares Jeff Trapp, an atmospheric sciences professor at the University of Illinois.

Trapp, who co-authored the study, says that it is difficult to dismiss the data. The team gathered and conducted a statistical analysis of data related to climate and weather and the occurrence of sea ice in the Arctic.

Further analysis hints at a significant possibility that the amount of sea ice in the Arctic correlates with tornado activity in the United States. The correlations were especially significant during the month of July.

The researchers are looking into the possibility that the decreasing occurrence of sea ice in the northern Polar Regions is altering the jet stream's path. Normally, the jet stream passes over South Dakota and Montana during the summer months. Because of the diminishing Arctic ice, however, this pathway has shifted further north.

"Tornadoes and their parent thunderstorms are fuelled by wind shear and moisture," says Trapp.

The shift in the path of the jet stream has also affected the conditions in America's "tornado alley," causing areas of heavy wind shear to also shift further up north. However, the amount of moisture may not be as heavily affected so thunderstorms can still occur normally.

While there are many factors affecting the occurrence of tornadoes in the United States, the team zeroed in on Arctic sea ice as a possible cause because data points related to sea ice tend to be more stable and resistant to change. The team hopes that the recent discovery may lead to more accurate weather predictions in the United States.

The study was published in the journal Nature.

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