The Arctic, one of the last frontiers for tourism, is heading towards winter but it’s failing to get really cold, even at the North Pole.
In the northern autumn of 2016 – that’s now – the North Pole is weirdly warm. Latest reports say the region is currently about 20 C above the average for this time of year.
A seasoned Arctic watcher and PhD student has tweeted an image from the Danish Meteorological Institute showing Arctic temperatures about 20 C higher than normal above 80 degrees North Latitude, which is a circle around the North Pole.
Temperatures north of 80 latitude were around minus 5 C – a little below freezing, but not much. The normal there is about minus 25 degrees C.
Current temperatures are like a cold snap in London, or a brisk morning in the Snowy Mountains, rather than the North Pole, which never receives direct sunlight.
This is the second year in a row that temperatures near the North Pole have risen to freakishly warm levels.
The Washington Post reports that Jennifer Francis, an Arctic specialist at Rutgers University, has published research suggesting that the jet stream, which travels from west to east across the Northern Hemisphere in the mid-latitudes, “is becoming more wavy and elongated as the Arctic warms faster than the equator does”.
Polar bears on the sea ice of the Arctic Ocean, near the North Pole in an earlier year, 2003. USS Honolulu pictured.
Experts says the Arctic is undergoing a sort of “double whammy,” caused by a warm with no sea ice forming above it, while at the same time, “kinks in the jet stream have allowed warm air to flow northward and frigid Arctic air to descend over Siberia”.
The North Pole being above freezing is unheard of, with some calling it “insane” and saying it’s a sign of serious and sudden climate change.
Written by Peter Needham