Scientists will increase scrutiny of Earth's polar regions as part of a two-year campaign announced on May 15 to improve global weather predictions and minimize risks linked with rapid climate change.
The World Meteorological Organization said more than 50 organizations from over 20 countries will dedicate a full year of study to improving forecasting capacities in the Arctic, with another year spent doing the same in Antarctica.
The polar regions are impacted the most by climate change, warming at twice the rate of the rest of the world and experiencing rapidly retreating glaciers and sea ice.
But because of their harsh climates, these regions are also the most poorly observed by scientists, though they have great importance in influencing weather systems at lower latitudes where billions of people live.
"Warming Arctic air masses and declining sea ice are believed to affect ocean circulation and the jet stream, and are potentially linked to extreme phenomena such as cold spells, heat waves, and droughts in the northern hemisphere," said WMO chief Petteri Taalas.
Better forecasts of weather and sea-ice conditions in the polar regions would enable global leaders to "reduce future risks" associated with rapid climate change, he said.