Home North pole ice Scientists surprised to see 3 rare successive thunderstorms in northern Alaska |

Scientists surprised to see 3 rare successive thunderstorms in northern Alaska |



Meteorologists were surprised this week when three successive thunderstorms swept through the icy Arctic from Siberia to northern Alaska, triggering lightning in an unusual phenomenon, Reuters reports. But scientists say this phenomenon will become less rare with global warming. The thunderstorms had started on Saturday.

“Forecasters have never seen anything like this before,” said Ed Plumb, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Fairbanks, of the storms that started on Saturday.

Typically, the air over the Arctic Ocean, especially when the water is covered with ice, does not have the convective heat necessary to generate thunderstorms. But as climate change warms the Arctic faster than the rest of the world, that is changing, scientists say.

Summer lightning episodes in the Arctic Circle have tripled since 2010, a trend directly linked to climate change and increasing sea ice loss in the High North, scientists reported in a March study published in the journal Geophysical Research Letters. As sea ice disappears, more water can evaporate, adding moisture to the warming atmosphere.

“It’s going to go with the temperatures,” said co-author Robert Holzworth, atmospheric physicist at the University of Washington in Seattle. These electrical storms threaten the boreal forests bordering the Arctic as they start fires in remote areas that are already baking in the summer sun 24 hours a day.

Boreal Siberia in Russia receives more lightning than any other arctic region, Holzworth said. The document also documented more frequent lightning over the treeless tundra regions of the Arctic, as well as over the Arctic Ocean and pack ice.

In August 2019, lightning even struck less than 100 kilometers from the North Pole, the researchers found. In Alaska alone, thunderstorm activity is set to triple by the turn of the century if current climate trends continue, according to two studies by scientists at the National Center for Atmospheric Research in Boulder, Colo., Published l last year in the journal Climate Dynamics.