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Capital Weather Gang

It's about 50 degrees warmer than normal near the North Pole, yet again

By Jason Samenow

February 10, 2017 at 3:50 PM

Temperature difference from normal, Feb. 10, 2017. (University of Maine Climate Re-analyzer)

Peer at a map of the Arctic and it glows fluorescent red. The warmth, compared to normal, is again nearly off the charts.

It's crazy and perhaps unsettling, but we have seen it coming.

In my Feb. 1 story, 'Beyond the extreme': Scientists marvel at 'increasingly nonnatural' Arctic warmth, I stated computer models predicted yet another round of incredible warmth in a week's time. Current data show these predictions have verified.

Friday's temperatures very near the North Pole are about 50 degrees warmer than normal, according to a temperature analysis by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

Reports from the ground offer further evidence of the unusual intensity of the high-latitude warmth.

On Wednesday, as the flux of warm air surged into the Arctic, the northernmost land station in the world in northern Greenland shot up 43 degrees (24 Celsius) in just 12 hours, cresting the melting point:

Early in the week, weather station Nord, in northeast Greenland, broke its all-time February high-temperature record by almost four degrees (two Celsius), the Danish Meteorological Institute reported.

In Svalbard, Norway, the island located about midway between continental Norway and the North Pole, high temperatures in the settlement of Longyearbyen have hovered near 40 degrees this entire week, compared with normal highs in the low-to-mid teens. Each day, these temperature were near or exceeded records.

The warmth funneled toward the North Pole as winds converged winds between a monster storm in the North Atlantic and a giant area of high pressure over northern Europe.

Related: [Massive hurricane-force Atlantic storm to push abnormally mild air toward North Pole]

While this week's sharp temperature spike resulted from the arrangement of these intense weather systems, scientists say such spikes are probably becoming more frequent and intense. Rising greenhouse-gas concentrations are increasing average temperatures and shrinking Arctic sea ice. Earlier this week, the National Snow and Ice Data Center reported January Arctic sea levels were the lowest on record.

Extreme temperature spikes such as this one have occurred multiple times in the past two winters, whereas they only previously occurred once or twice per decade in historical records according to research published in the journal Nature.

As Mashable science writer Andrew Freedman put it: "Something is very, very wrong with the Arctic climate."


Jason is the Washington Post’s weather editor and Capital Weather Gang's chief meteorologist. He earned a master's degree in atmospheric science, and spent 10 years as a climate change science analyst for the U.S. government. He holds the Digital Seal of Approval from the National Weather Association.

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