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The Great Arctic Cyclone

The Great Arctic Cyclone roared out of Siberia last August alerting storm watchers something unusual was taking place.

While similar storms are quite common in the Arctic the most powerful of them tend to come in the winter.

A study published by Geophysical Research Letters, looking at no fewer than 19,625 Arctic storms, concluded that the Great Cyclone was the most extreme summer storm. It was the 13th most powerful storm since modern satellite observations began in 1979.

On August 2nd, 2012 a dramatic storm formed over Siberia, moved into the Arctic, and died in the Canadian Arctic Archipelago on August 14th.

During its lifetime the central pressure dropped to 966 hPa, leading it to be dubbed ‘The Great Arctic Cyclone of August 2012’. This cyclone occurred during a period when the sea ice extent was on the way to reaching a new satellite-era low, and its intense behavior was related to baroclinicity and a tropopause polar vortex.

Those weather patterns may already be having ripple effects further south in the form of colder, snowier winters in the U.S. and Europe, at least some of the time.

Some scientists concluded that Arctic cyclones increased in both number and intensity during the second half of the 20th century; another study, published in 2009, projected an increase in the number and intensity of summer cyclones by 2100.

For Arctic storms, as for so many other climate-related events, including droughts, heat waves and killer storm surges, many of the outcomes are linked to greenhouses gases and global warming.

Source: Geophysical Research Letters

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