Daily 2m surface air temperature for the Arctic averaged above 80°N. Individual years from 1958-2017 are shown by the sequential blue/purple to yellow lines. 2018 is indicated by the red line. ERA40 has been applied for the 1958-2002 climatology (white line), while the operational ECMWF is used for the current year. This figure is modified from the Danish Meteorological Institute with more information available at http://ocean.dmi.dk/arctic/meant80n.uk.php. Graphic: Zachary Labe

By Jason Samenow
26 February 2018

(The Washington Post) – The sun won’t rise at the North Pole until March 20, and it’s normally close to the coldest time of year, but an extraordinary and possibly historic thaw swelled over the tip of the planet this weekend. Analyses show that the temperature warmed to the melting point as an enormous storm pumped an intense pulse of heat through the Greenland Sea.

Temperatures may have soared as high as 35 degrees Fahrenheit (2 degrees Celsius) at the pole, according to the U.S. Global Forecast System model. While there are no direct measurements of temperature there, Zack Labe, a climate scientist working on his PhD at the University of California at Irvine, confirmed that several independent analyses showed “it was very close to freezing,” which is more than 50 degrees (30 degrees Celsius) above normal.

GFS model analysis of temperature difference from normal (in Celsius) over the Arctic on Sunday, 25 February 2018. The temperature is above freezing at the North Pole. Graphic: University of Maine Climate Re-analyzer

The warm intrusion penetrated right through the heart of the Central Arctic, Labe said. The temperature averaged for the entire region north of 80 degrees latitude spiked to its highest level ever recorded in February. The average temperature was more than 36 degrees (20 degrees Celsius) above normal. “No other warm intrusions were very close to this,” Labe said in an interview, describing a data set maintained by the Danish Meteorological Institute that dates back to 1958. “I was taken by surprise how expansive this warm intrusion was.”

Such extreme warm intrusions in the Arctic, once rare, are becoming more routine, research has shown. A study published last July found that since 1980, these events are becoming more frequent, longer-lasting and more intense.

“Previously this was not common,” said lead author of the study Robert Graham, from the Norwegian Polar Institute, in an email. “It happened in four years between 1980-2010, but has now occurred in four out of the last five winters.”

Hours above freezing at Morris Jessup, Greenland, 1980-2018. In 2018, there were already 61 hours above freezing at Cape Morris Jesup, Greenland, by 25 February 2018. The previous record was 16 hours before the end of April in 2011. Graphic: Robert Rohde

Such warm water is appearing to have an effect on air temperatures. At the north tip of Greenland, about 400 miles to the south of the North Pole, the weather station Cape Morris Jesup has logged a record-crushing 61 hours above freezing so far this calendar year. The previous record, dating to 1980, was 16 hours through the end of April in 2011, according to Robert Rohde, a physicist at Berkeley Earth, a nonprofit that conducts temperature analysis. At one point, the temperature was as high as 43 degrees (6.1 degrees Celsius). [more]

North Pole surges above freezing in the dead of winter, stunning scientists


  1. Anonymous said...

    80 degrees in Garfield, Texas.




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