Insane graphs show weather is ‘upside down’
DESPITE emerging from the dead of Winter, the Arctic continues to face unprecedented warm conditions resulting in some truly "weird" and "wacky" environmental outcomes that have scientists very worried.
The icy point of the northern hemisphere has been enduring temperatures wildly above normal in 2018.
The normal temperature for the Arctic north is around -30 Celsius. But temperatures over the entire Arctic north have averaged about six degrees above normal since the beginning of the calendar year and at times have spiked more than 20 degrees higher.
Last week, a weather station perched on the northern tip of Greenland, experienced more than 24 hours of temperatures above freezing according to the Danish Meteorological Institute. That's really not normal for this time of year.
"How weird is that?" tweeted Robert Rohde, the lead scientist at Berkeley Earth, a non profit at the University of California focused on land temperature data analysis for climate science. "Well it's Arctic winter. The sun set in October and won't be seen again until March. Perpetual night, but still above freezing," he wrote.
US Meteorologist Eric Holthaus joined the chorus, tweeting: "This is simply shocking. I don't have the words."
They were was joined this week by Dr Lars Kaleschke, a professor for sea ice and remote sensing at the University of Hamburg, who tweeted about the unusual measurement, writing: "Wacky weather continues with scary strength and persistence."
These unusually high temperatures are the reason there is open water north of Greenland where the thickest sea ice of the Arctic used to be, he pointed out - something which is visible in the clip below.
As Dr Rohde also noted today, "the North Pole is warmer than much of Europe right now."
It might feel like we hear this kind of story all too often, and eventually, the words lose their impact.
Someone who understands that is climate scientist Zack Labe, a PhD candidate at Ivy League university Cornell, who frequently shares striking visual images on social media that illustrate the significance of these extreme weather events.
This week he shared a string of startling graphs that highlight the record-smashing warming occurring right now in the Arctic - and the impact it's having on the icy environment.
The data used in the above graphs is from data sets assembled from 1958, he explained. "Our current (weather) event is a record high (in temperature) for the month of February using this time series," Mr Labe said.
Other graphs illustrate the toll the warmer weather is taking on ice levels. Projections of the worst-case scenario suggests the North Pole's ice won't be around that much longer in the Summer months.
The higher temperatures are being caused by warm air piling into the region, which essentially works as a positive feedback loop as the ice melts. A study published in the prestigious journal Nature in 2016 found a decline of sea ice in the Arctic "is making it easier for weather systems to transport this heat polewards".
The image below - also shared by a scientist on Twitter - shows how southerly winds are pumping heat into the Arctic, turning Winter "upside down".
This worrying trend has been taking place in recent years, scientists say. Unseasonably warm air also occurred in December 2016, when the temperature at the North Pole last flirted with the melting point in the dark of the Arctic winter, The Washington Post reported.
Large spikes in temperature were also documented in November 2016 and December 2015.
In December 2017, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) published its Arctic Report Card and found that "the Arctic environmental system has reached a 'new normal', characterised by long-term losses in the extent and thickness of the sea ice cover".
The report concluded that the "Arctic shows no sign of returning to reliably frozen region of recent past decades".