Most of the Arctic is experiencing an unusual heat wave in December.
In Utqiagvik, Alaska’s northernmost community — formerly known as Barrow — the thermometer soared to 40 degrees Fahrenheit (4.4 degrees Celsius) on Monday morning. This figure represents not only a record 3.3 °C (6 °F), but also the highest ever for the region between late October and late April, according to climatologist Rick Thoman of the University of Alaska Arctic Research Center, Fairbanks. The hottest temperature has been recorded. Campus.
In Nome, Alaska, it rained over the weekend, which was unusual but not unheard of for December, and the city also set a new record for high temperatures on Sunday. Thoman said Savunga Creek was overflowing and not covered in snow, nor was the community of Taylor, northwest of Nome, where snow is used for drinking water this time of year.
On Sunday, the average temperature across the Arctic was 11.5 °F (6.4 °C) above the 1979–2000 average, and on Monday computer models showed the average was likely to be 5.9 °C. (10.5 °F) above normal according to the Climate Reanalyzer System of the University of Maine.
The weather in Nuuk, Greenland on Friday was mild for December, with a high temperature of 54°F (12.2°C), which is 26°F (14.4°C) above the normal high.
The thermometer in Kangerlussuaq, Greenland, reached 8.9 degrees Celsius (48 degrees Fahrenheit) on Friday, which is 18.9 degrees Celsius (34 degrees Fahrenheit) warmer than normal.
“The entire Arctic is warming except for small pockets in the central and eastern Canadian Arctic and a very small portion of Siberia,” Thoman told Fairbanks.
This is partly due to a storm system, which is likely just a random event, but also due to less-than-usual sea ice as a result of human-caused climate change, Thomann said.
According to the National Snow and Ice Data Center, sea ice is at its sixth lowest extent. “It’s well below normal,” Thoman said, “but we’ve seen worse.”
Sea ice is important because some areas of the Arctic receive no sun during the winter and the climate is cold. But if there is open water, it is usually warmer than the atmosphere.
“Let’s say it’s a heating pad that emits heat into the atmosphere,” Thoman explained.
Jason Box, a Danish Meteorological Service scientist studying Greenland, said that due to less sea ice, much of the Arctic is currently warming four times faster than the rest of the planet, resulting in “winter heat events”. ” have increased.
“Some people say, ‘Come on, it’s just the weather,'” Box said. “However, record temperatures, of which we have had several examples in recent years, tell us the true story of climate warming.”
Seth Borenstein is on Twitter as: @borenbears
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