EXETER, England, Oct. 29 (UPI) -- Melting arctic sea ice could increase summer rainfall in northwest Europe and North America, researchers say, by affecting atmospheric jet streams.
A study published in the journal Environmental Research Letters offers an explanation for the extraordinary run of wet summers experienced by Britain and northwest Europe between 2007 and 2012, the scientists said.
Loss of arctic sea ice shifts the jet stream further south than normal resulting in increased rain during the summer in northwest Europe, they said.
Jet streams are currents of strong winds high in the atmosphere that steer weather systems and their rain around the globe.
Normally in summer the jet stream lies between Scotland and Iceland and weather systems pass north of Britain, but when it shifts south in summer it brings unseasonable wet weather to Britain and northwest Europe which can cause havoc for tourism and farming.
"The study suggests that loss of sea ice not only has an effect on the environment and wildlife of the arctic region but has far reaching consequences for people living in Europe and beyond," James Screen of the University of Exeter said.
Computer models suggest that while summer rainfall increases in northwest Europe, Mediterranean regions will receive less rain -- and the effects are not limited to Europe, the researchers said; weather systems as as North America could also be influenced.