A huge discovery in the Arctic and the North Pole has scientists scratching their heads, and offering a few explanations.
In a baffling report from the Danish Meterological Institute, it appears that temperatures in the Arctic are actually skyrocketing this winter. As the Northeast United States gets battered by snowstorms, the Arctic is going through a mild winter, and most recently a powerful low-pressure storm in the northern Atlantic has brought in warm air, increasing temperatures significantly.
Temperatures in the region are now 20 degrees warmer than the average for this time of year, and it’s the third time this winter there has been such a significant warming event. Why is this happning? There’s likely a number of factors at work, scientists believe.
Climate change is one obvious explanation, although it can’t explain all of the sudden increase. The low pressure system is another short-term impactor, which can carry warm air into areas like the Arctic. While this type of storm isn’t unusual, they could become more frequent as a result of climate change.
Here is the abstract from a recent paper on the subject by G. W. K. Moore at the University of Toronto:
“In late December 2015, widespread media interest revolved around forecasts that the surface air temperature at the North Pole would rise above freezing. Although there has been significant interest in the enhanced warming that is occurring at high northern latitudes, a process known as arctic amplification, remarkably little is known about these midwinter warming events at the pole including their frequency, duration and magnitude as well as the environmental conditions responsible for their occurrence. Here we use buoy and radiosonde data along with operational weather forecasts and atmospheric reanalyses to show that such events are associated with surface cyclones near the pole as well as a highly perturbed polar vortex.
“They occur once or twice each decade with the earliest identified event taking place in 1959. In addition, the warmest midwinter temperatures at the North Pole have been increasing at a rate that is twice as large as that for mean midwinter temperatures at the pole. It is argued that this enhanced trend is consistent with the loss of winter sea ice from the Nordic Seas that moves the reservoir of warm air over this region northwards making it easier for weather systems to transport this heat polewards.”