Warming waters around Greenland… Could our chances of a mid/late winter cold pattern be increasing?

Written by on December 2, 2018 in Rest of Europe, United Kingdom & Ireland with 0 Comments

A record strong and prolonged +NAO between May and August helped drive one of Europe’s hottest summer’s in the last 100 years while Greenland shivered it’s coldest since 1997.

The cooling of the North Atlantic has almost certainly helped cool Greenland’s summers down and helped enhance this past summer’s deep Greenland trough and Europe ridge. Other factors of course also have to be factored in.

So, the cool waters have helped support low heights and cold over Greenland…


Mid November sees warming North and Central Pacific but remaining cool around Greenland.

What if waters go back above normal? A recent flip to a -NAO pattern has helped bring heights above normal over Greenland and thus warm Greenland and surrounding waters. How significant could warm waters surrounding Greenland be?

Current SST’s.

Credit: Tropical Tidbits

Credit: Tropical Tidbits

The general understanding is that when waters are colder than normal in the North Atlantic and particularly surrounding Greenland, the tendency is for low heights (trough) (+NAO) while warm waters favour high heights (ridge) (-NAO).

With a more distinct warm-cold-warm North Atlantic skin temperature profile the potential for a Greenland blocking high may have increased.

Not that simple

If only it was that simple right? Assuming that this warming isn’t brief and it hangs around for the meat of the season, the combination of the above and a modoki El Nino and wet autumn in a low solar cycle may have increased our chances for a colder mid and late winter pattern.

Another big factor to consider is the strength and behavior of the polar vortex. It too shows promising signs. It’s weak and fluid and that is forecasted to continue with further weakening which means there’s a chance of displacement, split or even complete collapse.

SSWE’s are said to be more likely in low solar years like seen in 2009-10.

Why mid and late winter? SSWE’s typically occur late December through February and feedback from ocean to atmosphere is stronger as the winter season matures.

So, the table may be getting set but what meal shall nature serve up remains open for now.

This coincides with my long term idea which states a cold mid and late winter for the UK and Northwest Europe.

FEATURED IMAGE: nevereverro/Getty Imagsing Wallpaper

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