Sudden Stratospheric Warming May Bring Another Cold Spell To Western And Central Europe In Early February, Models Suggest

Despite a week of bitter cold temperatures, central and western Europe has had a relatively mild winter this year.

Other parts of the northern hemisphere, however, have not been as lucky. For example Southeastern Europe, Central and Eastern Asia have seen massive waves of bitter cold and heavy snow. Climate Depot here tallies up the damage.

Now there are emerging indications that central and western Europe may need to brace for more bitter cold and treacherous winter conditions starting in early February.

German weather and climate analysis site wobleibtdieerderwaermung here writes that leading models are looking at a sudden stratospheric warming (SSW) over the Arctic over the coming days, which in turn will very likely lead to another powerful cold wave this winter for Western and Central Europe.

The German site writes that currently calculations for the stratosphere at approx. 30 km altitude appear as follows:

ECMWF-Prognose für Druck (Geopotential) und Temperatur der oberen Stratatosphäre in 10 hPa (rund 30 km Höhe) vom 23.1. für den 1.2.2016. Über Nordkanada hat sich warme Luft mit hohem Druck entwickelt und een kalten Polarwirbel in Richtung Eurasien mit Kern über Nordeuropa abgedrängt. Die Temperaturdiffrenz zwichen dem 90. und dem 60. Breitengrad ist von derzeit - 27°C auf +18°C stark angestiegen. Quelle:

ECMWF projection for pressure (geopotential) and temperature of the upper stratosphere from 23 January – 1 February 2016. Source: www.geo.fu-berlin.de/met/ag/strat.html.

The wobleibtdieerderwaermung site writes (my emphasis):

An SSW will cause the polar circulation to become disrupted and possibly even split. This process in the stratosphere also causes the circulation in the troposphere over the entire northern hemisphere to be changed: The westerly drift over the north Atlantic gets interrupted by a blocking high pressure region and allows polar air to flow in over central and western Europe from the north and east.”

There is a large body of literature out there showing strong links between low solar activity, stratospheric warming and cold European winters.

The wobleibtdieerderwaermung site writes that both models of the ECMWF and NOAA/GFS agree that most likely there will be strong westward drift over the North Atlantic to Central Europe in late January 2016.

ECMWF-Prognose vom 19. Januar für den arktischen Polarwirbel in 150 hPa (13000m). Der Polarwirbel ist stark gestört und hat zwei Teilwirbel gebildet (Dipol). Der Kern des größeren südlichen Teilwiebels liegt  vor Nordnowegen. Über West- und Mitteleuropa herrscht eine kräftige Westströmung, was stürmisches und wechselhaftes Wetter erwarten lässt. Quelle:

ECMWF prognosis for the Arctic polar circulation 150 hPa from 23 January to 31 January 2016. The polar circulation is strongly disrupted and is dipolar. The core of the larger southern circulation lies over northern Norway and shows a strong westerly flow that leads us to expect unsettled weather. Source: www.geo.fu-berlin.de/met/ag/strat.html.

GFS-Prognose vom 24. Januar für den arktischen Polarwirbel in 150 hPa (13.000 m) zum 02./03..2.2016. Der Polarwirbel ist stark gestört und hat zwei Teilwirbel gebildet (Dipol). Der Kern des größeren südlichen Teilwirbels liegt vor Nordnorwegen. Über West- und Mitteleuropa weisen die dicht beieinander liegenden Höhenlinien (Isohypsen) auf eine kräftige Westströmung hin, was stürmisches und wechselhaftes Wetter erwarten lässt.

GFS prognosis for the Arctic polar circulation 100 hPa (16,000 0m) from 24 January to 3 February 2016.  The polar circulation is strongly disrupted and is dipolar. The core of the larger, right circulation lies off northern Norway and shows a strong westerly flow that leads us to expect unsettled and stormy weather. Source: www.cpc.ncep.noaa.gov/products/stratosphere/emcz.

The pattern, the German site writes, will deliver lots of snow at the higher elevations in Germany, especially in the Alps. Moreover a strong westerly drift is a good sign for a split of the jet stream. The site wobleibtdieerderwaermung writes that should the model prognoses come true, then the chances are good for the third cold snap of the 2015/16 winter in western and central Europe.

Naturally there’s a lot of speculation and uncertainty involved in forecasts beyond a week, sometime even those beyond just a few days. If one thing is certain, it is that Europe’s weather never fails to deliver surprises.

 

7 responses to “Sudden Stratospheric Warming May Bring Another Cold Spell To Western And Central Europe In Early February, Models Suggest”

  1. Svend Ferdinandsen

    There is a good reason why Germany wanted some weatherstations at Greenland back in WW2.
    Somehow it is so, that Europes temperature varies opposite of Greenland.
    Even to day it is so, that Denmark and Grenland seems to vary in opposite ways.

  2. sod

    so it might get very warm in the arctic then?

    But our focus will keep strictly on the few cold places?

    1. yonason

      The Arctic is not in the Stratosphere, sod. You, on the other hand…?

      This is the clearest and most concise explanation I could find for “Sudden Stratospheric Warming” and it’s effects.

      It doesn’t go into the details of why the Stratosphere warms (though AGW says it’s not due to C02), but says we can probably expect a strong event to cause dramatic Tropospheric cooling. Specifically, “These disruptive patterns can last up to two months and once again colder weather can be experienced at latitudes further south.”

      No cherry picking here, it is a relatively well known WEATHER phenomenon.

      1. John F. Hultquist

        “It doesn’t go into the details ”

        I’ve seen a statement (no longer have) saying that very high altitude air flowing from the lower latitudes has radiated energy to space, thus becomes very cold. Over the polar area it descends, pressure increases, and temperature goes up. Thus, the warming.
        This is more of “what” and not much of “why” — I’ll keep reading.

    2. David Johnson

      No one is forcing you to keep focusing on the cold places, if you don’t like what you read here, go elsewhere

  3. yonason
  4. John F. Hultquist

    How strong and where the Highs and Lows set up, and how persistent they are, will be interesting to watch. Thanks for the heads up.

    I went to the Climate Depot site and was doing fine with it – lots of nasty weather around.
    Then he included a photo that is not current — of ice removal via hot water and a helicopter. Seems to be from Feb. 2014 as explained on a WUWT comment:
    Magma wrote