The dramatic loss of Arctic sea ice in recent years has created a fundamental new change in the atmospheric circulation in the Northern Hemisphere that has sped up sea ice loss and is affecting fall and winter weather across most of the Northern Hemisphere, according to several recent studies.
Arctic sea ice loss peaks in September and October, exposing a large area of open water that heats the air above it. This extra heat has helped drive September - November air temperatures in the Arctic to 1°C (1.8°F) or more above average over about half of the depth of the lower atmosphere. This deep layer of warm air has grown less dense and expanded, pushing the top of the troposphere (the lower atmosphere) higher. The result has been a decrease in the pressure gradient (the difference in pressure) between the North Pole and mid-latitudes. With not as much difference in pressure to try and equalize, the jet stream has slowed down in the Arctic, creating a major change in the atmospheric circulation for the Northern Hemisphere.
Arctic sea ice loss appears to have created a new atmospheric circulation pattern that brings more warm air in the Arctic, creating a positive feedback loop that causes even more sea ice loss. This feedback loop increases the likelihood that an ice-free Arctic in the summer will indeed come by 2030, as many Arctic experts are predicting. It's worth noting that such an atmospheric circulation shift was not predicted by the climate models. Indeed, the loss of Arctic sea ice over the past three years exceeds what any of our models were predicting. While we can rightly criticize these models for their inaccuracy, we should realize that they are just as capable of making errors not in our favor as they are of making errors in our favor.
From Jeff Masters Weather Blog.