Over the past year, Jennifer Francis, Ph.D., of Rutgers University has produced compelling evidence of links between the rapid reduction in Arctic sea ice and extreme weather events in the Northern Hemisphere.
Her hypothesis — that the reduced temperature gradient between Arctic and temperate zones causes the jet stream to slow — was examined in early June’s Yale Forum “This is Not Cool” video.
The science is compelling, but — as with all scientific evidence — not yet what could be called “settled.”
For this month’s “This is Not Cool” video, independent videographer and regular Yale Forum contributor Peter Sinclair interviewed both Francis and Kevin Trenberth, Ph.D., a highly regarded senior researcher from the National Center on Atmospheric Research, NCAR, in Boulder, Co. Trenberth expresses his reservations about the jetstream/Arctic connection, and he says questions remain about whether the Arctic Ocean is a sufficiently large heat reservoir to affect hemispheric circulation patterns in the jet stream. He asks if the answer to the riddle may lie in much larger energy exchanges in the tropical oceans.
Francis and Trenberth, in their comments in this month’s video, provide insight not only into the specific issue at hand, but also into the kinds of ongoing dialogue among top scientists trying to provide evidence-based answers to some of the most complex issues posed by our changing climate.