Arctic temperature spikes to 30 degrees Celsius higher than normal, above freezing point of water

Arctic temperatures have spiked to reach unusually high levels. Weather monitoring buoys near the north pole recorded temperatures 30 degrees above normal.

Arctic temperatures have spiked to reach unusually high levels. Weather monitoring buoys near the north pole recorded temperatures 30 degrees above normal. At times the recorded temperatures went above 0 degrees Celsius, at which temperature water starts turning into ice. The spike in temperatures were recorded despite the long night in the Arctic, where the sun has not risen since October.

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Weather buoys tracked by the International Arctic Buoy Program recorded several buoys reaching sub freezing temperatures. The program maintains a site with real time updates of surface temperature and when available, air temperature. Some of the buoys around the north pole recorded a freakish sudden rise in temperature, that cannot be good for the Arctic sea ice, the extent of which has been reducing year on year.

Arctic temperature spikes to 30 degrees Celsius higher than normal, above freezing point of water

Image: IABP

The soaring temperatures in the region are off the scale. According to a report in the Weather Network, there have been several times in the past few months that the temperatures in the Arctic region reached sub freezing temperatures, but the latest temperature spike is the biggest departure from expected temperatures. A powerful storm system north of Greenland and Norway is creating a low pressure zone that is drawing in warmer air to the Arctic from more southern regions.

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The warm air, accompanied by strong winds are not good for the re-growth of ice near the Arctic. The disappearing ice and warmer temperatures are affecting ecosystems in the north, and are troublesome for species such as the polar bear and reindeer. The ice in the Barents sea is particularly affected. The ice is melting, and the winds are pushing the ice further away from the north. Arctic sea ice are at historically low levels, and the anomalous temperatures are not helping the situation.

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The sudden spike in temperature, and the extreme deviation from the normal, is alarming scientists, environmentalists and weather trackers. Although the storm system north of Greenland and Norway is the cause of the immediate spike, the temperatures in the Arctic were at record highs throughout the months of November and December, 2016. The temperatures are at unprecedented heights over 40 years of satellite records, and the sea ice at its lowest point since 1850, according to a report in Climate Central.

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The extreme deviations from normal has a number of ecological and socioeconomic implications in the Arctic. The Arctic is inhabited, and is home to various species of animals. The warmer temperatures can lead to rain on snow events, which can be disastrous to reindeer populations, preventing them from feeding on the Arctic plants. The temperature anomalies disrupt the lives of the organisms at the bottom of the food chain, including phytoplankton in the ocean and terrestrial plants, which has a cascading effect on the entire ecosystem.

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The data gathered by Climate Central indicates that the probability of extreme temperature spikes in the Arctic would have been very low without the build up of aerosols and greenhouse gasses in the atmosphere. Human beings and the effects of the industrial revolution are entirely to blame for the temperature spikes, and the effects to the ecosystem and the environment. Data from Climate Reanalyzer, an initiative by the University of Maine, shows that the temperature spike is beyond the charts, at the very limit of the colours on the scale.

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The warming of the Arctic region is a snowballing effect, known as "Arctic Amplification". Less ice means a larger portion of the incoming sunlight is absorbed by the oceans and landmass instead of being reflected by the ice cover. The temperature spikes are in control during the summer months because of the melting ice, but the waters remain warmer throughout Winter. This is the second December in a row that the Arctic is seeing a sudden spike in temperatures. The Weather Network predicts that the trend will continue, and that 2017 will see another record low in terms of Arctic sea ice.

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