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September 26 2012

Record Arctic Snow-Loss May Be Prolonging North American Drought


Melting Arctic snow isnít as dramatic as melting sea ice, but the snow may be vanishing just as rapidly, with potentially profound consequences for weather in the United States.

Across the Arctic, snow melted earlier and more completely this year than any in recorded history. In the same way ice loss exposes dark water to the sunís radiant heat, melting snow causes exposed ground to heat up, adding to the Arcticís already super-sized warming.

This extra heat retention appears to alter the polar jet stream, slowing it down and causing mid-latitude weather patterns to linger. Itís even possible that the ongoing North American drought, the worst since the Dust Bowl of the 1930s, was fueled in part by climate change in the Arctic, making it a preview of this new weather patternís ripple effects.

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