As millions of Americans brace for their first blast of winter weather this season, scientists are sounding alarm bells about extremely warm the Arctic is at the moment.
According to data from Climate Reanalyzer, temperatures around the North Pole on Thursday are 36 degrees F warmer than the daily average for this time of year.
Currently, the Arctic is in the midst of polar night, a time when the sun doesn’t rise at all. This is when Arctic sea ice accumulates and thickens, a major part of Earth’s normal climate cycle.
Scientists have said they are particularly alarmed by these events because this year has already set record lows for Arctic sea ice. While sea ice is currently forming in the Arctic, it is doing so more slowly than usual.
Heat Also Rising on Twitter
Some scientists took to Twitter as they watched Arctic temperatures rise.
“Today’s latest #Arctic mean temperature continues to move the wrong direction . . . up. Quite an anomalous spike!” wrote Zack Labe, a polar researcher at the University of California at Irvine.
“Despite onset of #PolarNight, temperatures near #NorthPole increasing. Extraordinary situation right now in #Arctic, w/record low #seaice,” added Daniel Swain, a climate researcher from UCLA.
This is the second consecutive year temperatures near the North Pole have climbed to alarmingly high levels. Around the end of 2015, the temperature around the North Pole jumped to the melting point on account of an immense storm that pushed warm air into the area.
“It’s about 20C (36 degrees F) warmer than normal over most of the Arctic Ocean, along with cold anomalies of about the same magnitude over north-central Asia,” Jennifer Francis, an Arctic researcher at Rutgers University told the Washington Post. “The Arctic warmth is the result of a combination of record-low sea-ice extent for this time of year, probably very thin ice, and plenty of warm/moist air from lower latitudes being driven northward by a very wavy jet stream.”
Francis’ past research has concluded that the changes seen in the Arctic is stretching and bending the jet stream.
“It will be fascinating to see if the stratospheric polar vortex continues to be as weak as it is now,” she noted. “The extreme behavior of the Arctic in 2016 seems to be in no hurry to quit.”
Image credit: Climate Change Institute/University of Maine
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