“Crazy,” “weird,” and “wacky.” That’s how scientists are describing the temperature in the Arctic.
Over the weekend, the world’s northernmost weather station, located just 440 miles from the North Pole, warmed to 43 degrees Fahrenheit during what’s normally the coldest time of the year. That’s about 60 degrees above average for February. The rising temperatures, caused by a “warm air intrusion,” have left scientists in shock. Sea ice in the region is also at its lowest level on record.
“This is simply shocking. I don't have the words,” meteorologist Eric Holthaus tweeted.
The Arctic winter lasts from October to March and leaves much of the region in almost permanent darkness. During that time, the average temperature hovers around minus 4 degrees Fahrenheit. But so far in 2018, the Cape Morris Jesup meteorological site, at the northern tip of Greenland, has seen a record-breaking 61 hours of temperatures above freezing.
In fact, at one point this past weekend, most of Europe was colder than it was in Greenland. And in the coming days, parts of the U.K. could dip down to 5 degrees Fahrenheit.
People across Europe are bracing themselves for harsh weather conditions dubbed “The Beast from the East,” which could cause sustained temperatures below freezing, power loss, and travel delays.
The Beast, a high-pressure ridge over Scandinavia that’s funneling cold air down from Siberia, caused a rare snowstorm to hit Rome on Monday.
But up north in the Arctic, it’s currently “hotter than ever measured in the winter,” according to Peter Gleick, a member of the U.S. National Academy of Science. “Human-caused climate change is beginning to radically transform our planet,” he added.
As a whole, 2017 was the second warmest year on record for the Arctic and had the smallest sea ice coverage in winter, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
Cover image: Researcher Tiina Jaaskelainen points out a possible sighting of wildlife aboard the Finnish icebreaker MSV Nordica as it traverses the Northwest Passage through the Canadian Arctic Archipelago, Saturday, July 22, 2017. (AP Photo/David Goldman)