Maps of the day: Arctic temperatures at record high

UPDATED With lots more on Alaska and record highs in parts of Siberia.

It’s almost thanksgiving, and you’d expect things to be really chilly at the North Pole.

But that’s not the case today, where the ice is melting as thermometers top the freezing point.

From the Climate Change Institute at the University of Maine’s Climate Reanalyzer, a stunning map revealing the stunning rise in Arctic temperatures comparing today’s readings to a 1978-2000 baseline average:


From the Independent:

Professor Peter Wadhams, head of the Polar Ocean Physics Group at Cambridge University, told The Independent that such warmth in the Arctic at this time of year was once virtually unheard of.

“Temperatures of more than zero are really exceptional for this time of year. It’s remarkable in terms of the way the climate used to be, but over the past six years this is what’s developed,” he said.

It was, he said, the result of a “sudden” change in the jet stream – high altitude winds that circle the globe and have a major effect on the weather.

“When the sea ice retreated in the Arctic Ocean, in summer it led to much warmer air over the Arctic,” Professor Wadhams said.

“That reduced the temperature difference between the Arctic and the tropics and that caused the jet stream to slow down and adopt these big lobes.

The Associated Press covers the climate in Alaska:

There has been “a meteoric rise in October temperatures on Alaska’s north slope,” said Rick Thoman, NOAA’s climate science and services manager in Alaska.

Barrow’s The average October temperature in 2016 in Barrow, Alaska, was 30.2 degrees, nearly double the 20th century normal of 15.6 degrees. And the last 15 years have all averaged more than 20 degrees in October in Barrow.

“Since October 2001, there have been no cold Octobers (in Barrow), not one,” Thoman said. “This change is the direct result of the really catastrophic loss of autumn sea ice on Alaska’s north coast.”

Arctic sea ice in October — the first full month when sea ice is supposed to grow in the region set a record low for the month, Blunden said. She called the Arctic the “canary in the coal mine” for global warming.

More on the Alaskan heat wave from

Overall temperatures in the state were 4 degrees Fahrenheit above the 20th-century average, with the Arctic communities of Nome, Kotzebue, and Barrow seeing record-setting highs, said Rich Thoman, a climate scientist with the Alaska Region of NOAA’s National Weather Service.

It was also “the driest October since 1925 in Alaska,” said Thoman, with “every single long-term climate site in the panhandle and the eastern Gulf Coast” registering the least October precipitation in recorded history.

October also saw a record low in Arctic sea ice, with the ice area almost 30 percent below its 1981-to-2010 average of 3.4 million square miles. “For the last week and a half of October, the Arctic was setting daily record-low sea ice extent values,” said Jessica Blunden, a climate scientist at NOAA’s National Centers for Environmental Information.

The Barents Observer has more on record polar temperatures:

Weather measurements from the northern tip of the Russian Taymyr Peninsula and the Kara Sea reveal that temperatures are up to 14 degrees Celsius higher than normal. The same is the case In the Laptev Sea and the New Siberian Sea, Meteonovosti reports.

Former weather records are smashed all over the region. On Cape Chelyuskin, the northernmost point on the Eurasian continent, measurements from 15th November showed only minus 1,9 degrees, and on Kheis Island, a part of the Franz Josef Land, the thermometers on that same day showed +1,5 degrees.

The normal average November temperature on Kheis is minus 17.

The trend is the same on measurement points on the islands of Vize, Golomyanny (Severnaya Zemlya) and Kotelny (New Siberian Island).

Meanwhile, on Svalbard, the Norwegian archipelago, average measurements from the last 30 days show a temperature of +2,2 degrees. That is 10,7 degrees higher than the norm for this time of year, Yr informs. Weather data from the archipelago show that all the last 12 months have been significantly warmer than normal.

More on the implications from the Economist:

Global temperatures this year are about 1.2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial ones—dangerously close to the warming limit of 1.5C that politicians hope to achieve, as agreed during last year’s round of talks in Paris. Particular hot spots include Arctic regions, which are heating up at twice the rate of the rest of the world. While a single degree’s shift in temperature may have noticeable effects at the equator, in the Arctic it changes ice to water, totally altering the landscape. Once more sea-ice levels in the region remained worryingly low this year.

And this graph from the Danish Meteorological Institute reveals the radical rise in temperatures above 80 degrees north latitude, with average mean temperatures from 1958 to 2016 shown by the green line and this year’s temperatures to date by the red line. The numbers at the bottom represent the days of the year:


And the arctic sea ice is rapidly vanishing

A final graphic from the National Snow and Ice Data Center tell the story, revealing the current polar ice pack, with the red lines indicating the average ice cap extent using the median from 19821 to 2010:



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