There were more than 1,900 Arctic cyclones every year between 2000 and 2010, over 40 percent more than previously thought, that led to melting sea ice thanks to warm water and air left in the wake of the cyclones, according to a new study of weather data synthesized at the Ohio Supercomputer Center (OSC).
A 40 percent difference in the number of cyclones could be important to anyone who lives north of 55 degrees latitude - the area of the study, which includes the northern reaches of Canada, Scandinavia and Russia, along with the state of Alaska.
The finding is also important to researchers who want to get a clear picture of current weather patterns, and a better understanding of potential climate change in the future, David Bromwich, Ph.D., professor of geography at The Ohio State University and senior research scientist at the Byrd Polar Research Center, said.
The cyclone study was presented at the American Geophysical Union meeting in December, in a poster co-authored by his colleagues Natalia Tilinina and Sergey Gulev of the Russian Academy of Sciences and Moscow State University.
"We now know there were more cyclones than previously thought, simply because we've gotten better at detecting them," Bromwich, who amassed the weather database and consulted on the cyclone study, said.
"We can't yet tell if the number of cyclones is increasing or decreasing, because that would take a multi-decade view. We do know that, since 2000, there have been a lot of rapid changes in the Arctic - Greenland ice melting, tundra thawing - so we can say that we're capturing a good view of what's happening in the Arctic during the current time of rapid changes," Bromwich added.