The Arctic is way hotter than it should be this month. In Utqiagvik (formerly known as Barrow), the temperature hit 40 degrees Fahrenheit on Monday. That’s an unwelcome record not only for December but for the entire span of late October to late April.
Nome, Alaska had a rainy weekend, which is unusual for December. On Sunday, it also had a record high. That day the whole Arctic averaged 11.5 degrees Fahrenheit higher than the average temperatures recorded between 1979 to 2000.
Things were especially freaky in Nuuk, Greenland last Friday. The temperature shot up to 54 degrees — a full 26 degrees over the normal high. And Kangerlussuaq, Greenland recorded a Friday temperature of 48 degrees, which is 34 higher than normal.
“The entire Arctic is hot except for small portions of the central and eastern Canadian Arctic and a very small portion of Siberia,” said Rick Thoman, a climate specialist at the International Arctic Research Center at the University of Alaska Fairbanks, as reported by AP. Fairbanks was also experiencing unseasonably warm weather.
According to Thoman, the Arctic heat wave culprits are storms, random weather, and lower than normal sea ice, thanks to human-caused climate change. The Arctic sea ice level is about the sixth lowest on record, and far below normal. Sea ice is important to the Arctic because it keeps the temperature down more than open water does during the sunless winter.
“Think of that as a heating pad and it’s just emitting heat into the atmosphere,” Thoman said of open water.
Due to the sea ice situation, many parts of the Arctic are heating up four times faster than other parts of the world. This, in turn, contributes to more “winter warm events” as Danish Meteorological Service ice scientist Jason Box calls them. Box studies Greenland.
“Some people cry ‘come off it, it’s just weather,’” Box said, as reported by AP. “However, record-setting weather like we’re seeing plenty of examples of in recent years does tell a real story of climate heating.”
Via AP News