INTERNATIONAL ARCTIC RESEARCH CENTER — UNIVERSITY OF ALASKA FAIRBANKS

People of IARC

Vladimir_Alexeev

Vladimir Alexeev

For over a decade, Vladimir Alexeev has led advanced research and education initiatives at IARC, promoting complex and diverse scientific approaches and priorities. Widely recognized and published, Alexeev also plays a leading role in IARC’s long-running Summer School where students and early career scientists gain hands-on research experience.

Contact Dr. Alexeev

Record lows and record highs

Another area of research for Alexeev is highs and lows in temperature and climate. In the winter of 2017, temperatures across the northern hemisphere hit record lows.  Western Japan, East Asia, and Eastern Canada were hit the hardest, with western Japan in particular reporting lows not seen since 1985. There is evidence that this could be due to a jetstream, or a meandering air current in Earth’s atmosphere.  According to research done by Alexeev alongside other scientists from IARC and the Faculty of Bioresources in Tsu, Japan, as places like the Bering Strait are feeling the heat other locations like Siberia are cooling down.

In the United States people have felt similar weather extremes. “The Midwest or East Coast sees more and more of those cold outbreaks where the temperatures are well below normal.” says Alexeev. “The same thing happens, actually on a larger scale, in Siberia. They are feeling it every winter now.”

Jetstream wiggles bring about changes in temperature

According to Alexeev, if the shape of the jetstream changes, it can lead to a change in temperature. Areas that would normally be warmed by the jetstream could get colder in its absence, or from cold air the jetstream brings from the arctic.

“When it becomes more ‘wiggly’, it carries a lot of warmth and moist air north. That’s making the Arctic warmer in the winter.” says Alexeev. “When the air reaches the Arctic, it cools off, and it loses a lot of moisture, and it circulates back, carrying all the cool air down south.”

The jetstream used to be more confined to a specific zone, says Alexeev, but when its shape changes, gaining more ‘wiggles’, the jetstream moves to unusual locations.  This can leave a ‘warm hole’ in the Arctic, and drop temperatures elsewhere in the northern hemisphere.

It is theorized that this change in jetstream could happen again in the future. As sea ice disappears in the Arctic, the release of cold air could interact with the atmospheric phenomenon that manipulate and control the jetstreams, which would in turn lead to another change of shape in the affected weather patterns. As such, keeping these discoveries in mind could allow for more accurate seasonal predictions of weather and temperature in areas affected by the jetstream.

Vladimir Alexeev alongside a cohort of IARC summer school students. The program brings together students from across the globe, and gives them invaluable hands-on research experience as well as a tour of Arctic science.  The course largely focuses on the interwoven nature between data collection and modeling, with a more specific, differing focus each year.
Vladimir Alexeev alongside a cohort of IARC summer school students. The program brings together students from across the globe, and gives them invaluable hands-on research experience as well as a tour of Arctic science. The course largely focuses on the interwoven nature between data collection and modeling, with a more specific, differing focus each year.
A horizontal view of the jetstream that caused a drop in temperature in Eastern Canada and East Asia, while warming a hole in the Arctic during the 2017-2018 winter. Warm air from the south is delivered to the Arctic, where it melts sea ice. The cooled air is then moved along south, where it cools some of the northernmost countries.
A horizontal view of the jetstream that caused a drop in temperature in Eastern Canada and East Asia, while warming a hole in the Arctic during the 2017-2018 winter. Warm air from the south is delivered to the Arctic, where it melts sea ice. The cooled air is then moved along south, where it cools some of the northernmost countries.