Strong disturbances in air stream flows would be the main reason behind frosty weather, said Vladimir Petoukhov of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK).
Ice melting in the eastern Arctic Ocean could create warmer layers of air that would in turn change air flows, he said.
“Should it occur these disturbances would triple the possibility of an extremely cold winter in Europe and northern Asia,” he said.
“Hard winters like last year’s or in 2005-2006 do not defy the premise of global warming, but rather confirm it.”
Petoukhov and his colleagues at the institute supported their theory with simulations by supercomputers.
They focused on the Barents and Kara Seas north of Norway and Russia, where drastic shrinkage of the ice sheet was recorded in the winter of 2005-2006, a bitterly cold weather period in Europe.
“Our simulations showed a clear non-linear reaction of air temperature and wind when we shrank the ice sheet on the computer,” he said.