According to the paper, published by Nature Communications on Monday, rising temperatures in the Arctic have slowed the circulation of the jet stream and other giant winds, affecting pressure fronts across continents.
This summer, the UK and other parts of Europe, were gripped by heatwaves and in some cases, such as Italy, Greece and California in the US, wildfires ripped through the landscape.
High and low pressure fronts are becoming “stuck”, while the weather is increasingly less able to moderate itself.
The research paper warned that the mixed colliding pressures could lead to “very extreme extremes”, that happen when abnormally high temperatures linger for an unusually prolonged period.
A Portuguese fireman tries to extinguish a forest fire in Rasmalho (Image: EPA/MIGUEL A. LOPES)
These extreme systems could turn sunny days into baking heatwaves, tinder-dry conditions into wildfires, and rain water into floods.
Dim Coumou from the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research, one of the co-authors of the paper, said: “This summer was where we saw a very strong intensity of heatwaves. It’ll continue and that’s very worrying, especially in the mid-latitudes: the EU, US, Russia and China.
“Short-term heatwaves are quite pleasant, but longer term they will have an impact on society. It’ll have an affect on agricultural production. Harvests are already down this year for many products. Heatwaves can also have a devastating impact on human health.”
Known as circulation stalling, the phenomenon has long been a concern for climate scientists.
Wildfires in Greece claimed the lives of scores of people (Image: GETTY)
But the new report marks the first, as researchers have studied summer patterns as opposed to winter weather systems.
The paper pointed to evidence of planetary wind system losing their ability to shift the weather.
One cause is a weakening of the temperature gradient between the Arctic and Equator as a result of man-made greenhouse gas emissions.
The paper states the far north of the Earth is warming two to four times faster than the global average – meaning there is a declining temperature gap with the central belt of the planet.
Arctic warming: Soaring temperatures from stuck winds to cause dangerous weather systems (Image: GETTY)
As this ramp flattens, winds struggle to build up sufficient energy and speed to push around pressure systems in the area between them.
A separate paper in Scientific Reports indicated the trapping of planetary airstreams – a phenomenon known as amplified “quasi-stationary waves” – also contributed to the 2016 wildfires in Alberta.
The devastating fires took two months to extinguish and ended as the costliest disaster in Canadian history with total damages reaching 4.7bn Canadian dollars.
Lead author Vladimir Petoukhov, also of the Potsdam Institute, said: “Clearly, the planetary wave pattern wasn’t the only cause for the fire – yet it was an additional important factor triggering a deplorable disaster.
“In fact, our analysis reveals that beyond that single event, actually from the 1980s on, planetary waves were a significant factor for wildfire risks in the region.”
The lead author said that future studies of wave patterns will help authorities because changes can be detected ahead of their impacts.
Mr Comou said: “Simple warming is well understood in climate models, but scientists are trying to understand non-linearities, how climate change effects interact with one another and how feedback processes are involved.
“Non-linearities can rapidly change weather conditions in a given region so you get more abrupt changes.”
Chris Rapley of University College London said the paper highlights the risk of disruptive and dangerous natural weather patterns: “What happens in the Arctic doesn’t stay in the Arctic. By upsetting the energy balance of the planet we are changing the temperature gradient between the equator and the pole. This in turn sets in motion major reorganisations of the flow patterns of the atmosphere and ocean.”