‘Beast from the East’ linked to solar cycle

The extreme winter weather conditions that recently swept across the UK could be linked to the solar cycle, according to new research.

The ‘Beast from the East’, a cold weather front that brought a deep freeze to the UK this March, could be linked to the 11-year solar cycle.

A new study conducted by the University of Exeter explored how the solar cycle – a periodic change in the sun’s activity including changes in the levels of solar UV radiation – can be linked with the Polar vortex and Arctic oscillation phenomenon, which affects the winter Arctic and Eurasian climates.

It subsequently can influence weather conditions in Europe.

When the solar cycle is in its ‘weaker’ phase, there are warm spells across the Arctic in winter, as well as heavy snowfall across the Eurasian sector.

Study leader Dr Indrani Roy said in a statement: “In spite of all other influences and complexities, it is still possible to segregate a strong influence from the sun.

“There are reductions of sea-ice in the Arctic and a growth in the Eurasian sector is observed in recent winters. This study shows those trends are related and current weaker solar cycle is contributing to that.”

During periods when the winter solar Sunspot Number (SSN) falls below average, the Arctic warming extends from the lower troposphere to high up in the upper stratosphere, according to the study. Conversely, there is a cooling when SSN is above average.

Photo credit: Mark Seton/ CC BY-NC 2.0

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