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科学美国人60秒:北极的海冰融化会让加州的树木燃烧吗?

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Emily Schwing: This is Scientific American’s 60 Second Science. I’m Emily Schwing.

这里是《科学美国人》的 60 秒科学,我是艾米丽·施温。

Oil and water. Apples and oranges. Fire and Ice…none of these things really seem like they have much to do with one another…or do they?

油与水、苹果与橙子、火与冰……这些东西看似没有太大的关系……但真的是这样吗?

Hailong Wang: We found that more fire-favorable weather associated with declines in the Arctic sea ice during summer can increase autumn wildfires over the western United States.

我们发现,与夏季北极海冰减少相关的更有利于火灾的天气,可能会增加美国西部秋季的野火。

Schwing: Hailong Wang is an Earth scientist at the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory in Washington state.

王海龙是华盛顿州太平洋西北国家实验室的地球科学家。

Wang: So we analyzed a few decades of observations of how wildfire incidents, sea ice cover and weather conditions to identify a relationship between Arctic sea ice decline and the wildfire risks. We called it a teleconnection.

所以我们分析了几十年来对野火事件、海冰覆盖和天气状况的观察,以确定北极海冰减少与野火风险之间的关系。我们称之为遥相关。

Schwing: Wang says this idea of a fire and ice “tele-connection?” … It’s not new. It’s a lot like the so-called “butterfly effect” - a term coined by meteorologist Edward Lorenz in the 1960’s to explain chaos theory. The idea can be summarized like this: if a butterfly flaps its wings in one location, that could displace enough air to cause a tornado or some other large scale atmospheric storm elsewhere.

施温:王海龙表示冰与火之间存在“遥相关”?......这个想法并不新鲜,很像我们所谓的“蝴蝶效应”——气象学家爱德华·劳伦兹在1960年创造的用于解释混沌理论的术语。可以总结如下:如果一只蝴蝶在一个地方拍打翅膀,扰动了足够多的空气,最终可能在另外某处引发一场龙卷风或者其他大规模的大气风暴。

Wang: Certainly didn't invent this concept, but it has been in the atmospheric sciences for a long time. So, because of the connections within the Earth system, especially in the atmosphere, one small change in one region could affect other regions through the atmospheric circulations.

这个概念当然不是我们发明的,它在大气科学领域存在已久。所以,由于地球系统内的各种联系,尤其是大气中,某一地区的微小改变可以通过大气循环影响到另外的地区。

Schwing: Connections between declining sea ice and wildfire weather have been made before. Wang says previous findings have relied heavily on statistical relationships.

海冰减少与野火天气之间的联系以前就建立过,但王海龙表示先前的发现严重依赖数据的统计关系。

Wang: For example, they find that they found that maybe Arctic sea ice are declining in many years, and they also found the increase in extreme weather like wildfires in the western U.S. They can only identify the relationship, but there's no mechanism to explain which which one is the cause? Which one is the effect?

比如说,他们可能发现多年来北极海冰在减少,同时也发现美国西部的极端天气比如野火在增加。他们只能意识到这其中存在联系,但无法找到机制来解释哪一个是因,哪一个是果。

Those relationships found a link between a decrease in sea ice and an increase in wildfires in the WEstern US, but they could not explain the cause and effect. ]

这些关系表明海冰减少与美国西部野火增加之间存在联系,但它们无法解释其中的因果关系。

So Wang and colleagues took those known statistical relationships a step further. The team applied them to a state of the art climate model with wildfire prediction capabilities.

因此,王海龙和同事将这些已知的统计关系更进一步,将它们应用于具有野火预测能力的最先进的气候模型。

Wang: In that way, we were able to identify the response of the climate system, including the fire weather over the western U.S. and other responses to the Arctic sea ice.

王:通过这种方式,我们就能够确定气候系统的响应机制,包括美国西部的火灾天气以及对北极海冰的其他响应。

Schwing: What they found is “a tale of two vortices.”

于是,他们发现了“两个涡旋的故事”。

Wang: So when the summer sea ice is much reduced, ocean can absorb and store more heat from sunlight. Less sea ice cover over the Arctic will allow more heat to be also to be released from the ocean to the atmosphere in the following autumn and early winter. Otherwise, the sea ice can insulate the heat from the ocean to the air.

夏天的时候,海冰大量消融,海洋能够吸收并储存更多来自阳光的热量,北极更少的海冰覆盖,会让更多的热量在秋天和早冬到临时从海洋中释放出来进入大气;如果海冰足够多,热量就能被海冰阻隔,难以从海洋流入空气。

Schwing: So, more heat is released to the atmosphere as the sea ice declines.

所以,随着海冰的减少,更多的热量会释放到大气中。

Wang: The anomalous heat in the Arctic can form rising air from the surface, and that can strengthen the low pressure system, which is one of the the spinning vortex. It’s counter-clockwise.

北极的异常热量可以形成来自地表的上升气流,这可以加强低压系统,即涡旋气流的一种,是逆时针的。

Schwing: This forms a low pressure system and Wang says when it moves south, it pushes the polar jet stream off its normal course and forms a second vortex.

王海龙表示,当这个低压系统向南移动时,它会将极锋急流(jet stream)推离正常路径,并形成第二个涡旋。

Wang: So this shift also facilitate[s] the formation of a high pressure system over the western U.S. This high-pressure system is a clockwise spinning vortex. This drives dry and hot hot air to descend to the ground—from the upper air to the ground. Normally it comes with clear skies and no precipitation. So those are all favorable weather conditions for wildfire hazards.

所以,这一变动也促进了美国西部上空高压系统的形成。这种高压系统是顺时针的涡旋气流,驱动干燥的热空气下沉至地面,从上层空气下降至地表。正常情况下,此时天空一片晴朗,无降雨出现。所以,这些统统都是野火灾害暴发的有利天气条件。

Schwing: The findings are published in Nature Communications. And Wang says wildfire might not be the only result of declining sea ice. [Yufei Zou et al., Increasing large wildfires over the western United States linked to diminishing sea ice in the Arctic]

研究结果发表在《自然通讯》上。王海龙还表示,野火可能不是海冰减少的唯一后果。

Wang: The arctic changes could also be connected to extreme cold weather.

北极的变化也可能与极端寒冷的天气有关。

Schwing: Like the infamous 2021 Texas ice and snow storm that knocked out power to millions and caused billions of dollars in damage. Wang says looking for more “teleconnections’ is where his research will go next.

就像臭名昭著的 2021 年德克萨斯冰雪风暴一样,这场风暴导致数百万人断电并造成数十亿美元的损失。王海龙说,寻找更多的“遥相关”是他接下来的研究方向。

Wang: Moving forward, we would like to explore more connections of Arctic changes to weather, extreme weather, climate change over other regions of the entire globe.

王:展望未来,我们希望探索北极变化与全球其他地区天气、极端天气、气候变化的更多联系。

Schwing: If wildfires and sea ice could be this climatically entwined, surely there are other climate surprises just waiting to be unraveled.

如果野火和海冰在气候上有着如此千丝万缕的联系,那么肯定还有其他“气候惊喜”在等着被揭开。

For 60 Second Science, I’m Emily Schwing.

以上是《科学美国人》的 60 秒科学,艾米丽·施温报道。

Papp: For Scientific American's 60-Second Science, I’m Ashleigh Papp.

以上是《科学美国人》的 60 秒科学,阿什利·帕普报道。

Emily Schwing: This is Scientific American’s 60 Second Science. I’m Emily Schwing.

Oil and water. Apples and oranges. Fire and Ice…none of these things really seem like they have much to do with one another…or do they?

Hailong Wang: We found that more fire-favorable weather associated with declines in the Arctic sea ice during summer can increase autumn wildfires over the western United States.

Schwing: Hailong Wang is an Earth scientist at the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory in Washington state.

Wang: So we analyzed a few decades of observations of how wildfire incidents, sea ice cover and weather conditions to identify a relationship between Arctic sea ice decline and the wildfire risks. We called it a teleconnection.

Schwing: Wang says this idea of a fire and ice “tele-connection?” … It’s not new. It’s a lot like the so-called “butterfly effect” - a term coined by meteorologist Edward Lorenz in the 1960’s to explain chaos theory. The idea can be summarized like this: if a butterfly flaps its wings in one location, that could displace enough air to cause a tornado or some other large scale atmospheric storm elsewhere.

Wang: Certainly didn't invent this concept, but it has been in the atmospheric sciences for a long time. So, because of the connections within the Earth system, especially in the atmosphere, one small change in one region could affect other regions through the atmospheric circulations.

Schwing: Connections between declining sea ice and wildfire weather have been made before. Wang says previous findings have relied heavily on statistical relationships.

Wang: For example, they find that they found that maybe Arctic sea ice are declining in many years, and they also found the increase in extreme weather like wildfires in the western U.S. They can only identify the relationship, but there's no mechanism to explain which which one is the cause? Which one is the effect?

Those relationships found a link between a decrease in sea ice and an increase in wildfires in the WEstern US, but they could not explain the cause and effect. ]

So Wang and colleagues took those known statistical relationships a step further. The team applied them to a state of the art climate model with wildfire prediction capabilities.

Wang: In that way, we were able to identify the response of the climate system, including the fire weather over the western U.S. and other responses to the Arctic sea ice.

Schwing: What they found is “a tale of two vortices.”

Wang: So when the summer sea ice is much reduced, ocean can absorb and store more heat from sunlight. Less sea ice cover over the Arctic will allow more heat to be also to be released from the ocean to the atmosphere in the following autumn and early winter. Otherwise, the sea ice can insulate the heat from the ocean to the air.

Schwing: So, more heat is released to the atmosphere as the sea ice declines.

Wang: The anomalous heat in the Arctic can form rising air from the surface, and that can strengthen the low pressure system, which is one of the the spinning vortex. It’s counter-clockwise.

Schwing: This forms a low pressure system and Wang says when it moves south, it pushes the polar jet stream off its normal course and forms a second vortex.

Wang: So this shift also facilitate[s] the formation of a high pressure system over the western U.S. This high-pressure system is a clockwise spinning vortex. This drives dry and hot hot air to descend to the ground—from the upper air to the ground. Normally it comes with clear skies and no precipitation. So those are all favorable weather conditions for wildfire hazards.

Schwing: The findings are published in Nature Communications. And Wang says wildfire might not be the only result of declining sea ice. [Yufei Zou et al., Increasing large wildfires over the western United States linked to diminishing sea ice in the Arctic]

Wang: The arctic changes could also be connected to extreme cold weather.

Schwing: Like the infamous 2021 Texas ice and snow storm that knocked out power to millions and caused billions of dollars in damage. Wang says looking for more “teleconnections’ is where his research will go next.

Wang: Moving forward, we would like to explore more connections of Arctic changes to weather, extreme weather, climate change over other regions of the entire globe.

Schwing: If wildfires and sea ice could be this climatically entwined, surely there are other climate surprises just waiting to be unraveled.

For 60 Second Science, I’m Emily Schwing.

Papp: For Scientific American's 60-Second Science, I’m Ashleigh Papp.
 


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