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:
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.
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.”