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Arctic change and mid-latitude weather

The Arctic is warming much faster than the rest of the planet, a phenomenon called Arctic amplification. The enhanced warming results in a massive loss in sea ice and snow cover, which in turn interact with the atmosphere. These changes can have consequences beyond the Arctic region and they have been related to an increased frequency and intensity of extreme weather events across the Northern Hemisphere mid-latitudes.

The possible link between Arctic change and mid-latitude climate and weather has spurred a rush of new observational and modelling studies. While there are some arguments for a causal relationship between Arctic amplification and mid-latitude weather extremes, the significance of an Arctic influence is still discussed. To reflect on this vivid debate, this Nature Research collection combines commentary and reviews articles with primary research articles published in Nature Communications, Nature, Nature Geoscience and Nature Climate Change.

Commentary

The amplified warming of the Arctic in recent decades has been related to extreme weather events over the mid-latitudes, but its relative importance compared to other influences is not yet well understood. A Nature Research collection highlights evidence from theoretical and observational studies, as well as implications for future extreme events.

Editorial | Open Access | | Nature Communications

Climate scientists cannot agree on what caused a recent spate of severe winters over North America and Eurasia. Now, a simple yet powerful physics-based approach makes it clear that record-low Arctic sea ice coverage was not the root cause.

News & Views | | Nature Climate Change

Reviews & Perspectives

Research Articles

Mid-Holocene climate was characterized by strong summer solar heating that decreased Arctic sea ice cover. Here the authors show that this sea ice loss had profound effects on the climate system, distinct from direct effects of solar heating, over North America, northern Asia, and the North Atlantic.

Article | Open Access | | Nature Communications

Whether accelerated Arctic warming is favorable for more frequent severe winter weather remains controversial. Here the authors present an observational analysis that links Arctic warming to severe winter weather, showing that extreme weather is 2–4 times more likely in the eastern US when the Arctic is warm.

Article | Open Access | | Nature Communications