Researchers observed more ice-melting arctic cyclones than they were expecting.
Between the years of 2000 and 2010 about 1,900 cyclones ripped through the Arctic leaving behind warm air and water, an Ohio State University news release reported.
This number is about 40 percent higher than researchers previously thought it would be. Many of the cyclones have been overlooked in the past because of their small size or short duration.
The finding could help researchers gain insight into future weather patterns and climate change.
"We now know there were more cyclones than previously thought, simply because we've gotten better at detecting them," David Bromwich, professor of geography at The Ohio State University and senior research scientist at the Byrd Polar Research Center, said.
The research team will need to better-observe the number of cyclones in the future in order to get an idea if their frequency is increasing or decreasing.
"Since 2000, there have been a lot of rapid changes in the Arctic-Greenland ice melting, tundra thawing-so we can say that we're capturing a good view of what's happening in the Arctic during the current time of rapid changes," Bromwich said.
The researchers are using computer algorithms and statistics from a number of sources in order to get a clearer idea of what the cyclone pattern has looked like in the past.
"There is actually so much information, it's hard to know what to do with it all. Each piece of data tells a different part of the story-temperature, air pressure, wind, precipitation-and we try to take all of these data and blend them together in a coherent way," Bromwich said.
"Extreme Arctic cyclones" are of high interest to the scientists because they contribute to the dangerous melting of sea ice.
"When a cyclone goes over water, it mixes the water up. In the tropical latitudes, surface water is warm, and hurricanes churn cold water from the deep up to the surface. In the Arctic, it's the exact opposite: there's warmer water below, and the cyclone churns that warm water up to the surface, so the ice melts," Bromwich said.
A behemoth cyclone that tore across the Arctic in 2012 is believed to have made a significant contribution to record sea ice melt that year.