These Climate Scientists’ Tweets About the Unusually Warm Arctic Might Scare Your Pants Off

Cities in Europe, meanwhile, are getting hit with unusually cold temperatures and snowfall. That’s days after the U.S. East Coast had record highs.

By Andrea Germanos, staff writer for CommonDreams. Published 2-26-2018

People take part in the Women’s March in San Francisco on Jan. 21, 2018. (Photo: Kathy Knorr/flickr/cc)bluebird womens march Women’s March SF Jan 21 2018

“Shocking,” “absolutely astonishing,” and “remarkable.”

That’s how climate scientists are describing the recent unusually warm temperatures in the Arctic.

As the Washington Post reported last week, the region is “stewing in temperatures more than 45 degrees (F) above normal. This latest huge temperature spike in the Arctic is another striking indicator of its rapidly transforming climate.”

The anomaly continued this weekend, as climate researcher at the University of California at Irvine Zack Labe—one of the scientists taking to social media to describe the exceptional temperatures— tweeted Sunday, “The extreme event continues to unfold in the high Arctic today in response to a surge of moisture and ‘warmth.'”

Also on Sunday, Robert Rohde, lead scientist at climate analysis organization Berkeley Earth, tweeted, “The North Pole is warmer than much of Europe right now.”

“In relative terms,” he continued, “that’s a 30 C (54 F) temperature anomaly at the North Pole. This is associated with a warm air intrusion from the Atlantic and displacement of cold air onto Asia following large scale disturbances to the polar jet stream.”

Daniel Swain, a climate scientist at UCLA, wrote in response, “It is absolutely astonishing how much warmer the Arctic is right now relative to even the previous record warmest February. I know there have been a lot of weather/climate superlatives tossed around lately, but this truly is ‘record shattering.’ Wow.”

Temperature readings at the world’s northernmost land-based weather station, Cape Morris Jesup, offered key data. Rohde tweeted Sunday, “In 2018, there have already been 61 hours above freezing at Cape Morris Jesup, Greenland. The previous record was 16 hours before the end of April in 2011.”

Meteorologist Eric Holthaus tweeted of the unusually warm temperatures there Saturday:

Pointing to Tuesday, when most of the day had above-freezing temperatures, Rohde added, “How weird is that? Well it’s Arctic winter. The sun set in October and won’t be seen again until March. Perpetual night, but still above freezing.”

There’s perhaps something even more troubling, according to at least one climate expert. That “is open water north of Greenland where the thickest sea ice of the Arctic used to be,” writes sea ice expert Lars Kaleschke the University of Hamburg.

“This has me more worried than the warm temps in the Arctic right now,” responded ice sheet expert Mike MacFerrin of the University of Colorado Boulder. “That sea ice north of Greenland among the last vestiges of old, thick sea ice existing in the Arctic ocean. Break it apart, it can circulate straight out into the Atlantic come summer. We’ll see what comes.”

While the Arctic temperatures were remarkable warm, parts of Europe this week are battling unusually low temperatures and snowfall, disrupting travel and putting vulnerable people’s lives at risk.

Reuters reported Monday:

a rare snow storm hit Rome on Monday and some Brussels mayors planned to detain homeless overnight if they refused shelter with temperatures set to fall as low as minus 10 Celsius (14 Fahrenheit) in the coming week.

Hit by easterly winds from Siberia, cities from Warsaw to Oslo were colder than minus 8C.

The Associated Press adds that the storm dubbed the beast from the east, “set dangerously low temperatures: Meteorologists in Germany reported a record low for this winter of -27 C (-16.6 F) on the Zugspitze mountain in the Alps. Moscow, as well, recorded its coldest night this winter, with the mercury dipping to nearly -20 C (-4 F) on Sunday night.”

Corsica and Rome even got snow, and some flakes could hit Barcelona as well.

“It is going to bring severe weather that lives up to its name,” UK Met Office meteorologist Becky Mitchell said to CNN of the storm . “We probably haven’t seen it this cold or disruptive since March 2013.”

The unusual snowfall comes just days after cities along the U.S. east coast experienced record warmth.

Meteorologist Jeff Masters wrote last week:

Astonishing summer-like heat cooked the Eastern U.S. on Wednesday, smashing all-time records for February warmth in cities in at least ten states, from Georgia to Maine. At least 24 cities recorded their hottest February temperature on record on Wednesday, including New York City (78°), Hartford, CT (74°) and Concord, NH (74°). According to Weather Underground weather historian Christopher C. Burt, February 20 – 21 marked the most extraordinary heat event to ever affect the Northeastern quadrant of the U.S. during the month of February, since official records began in the late 1800s.

The World Meteorological Organization shared this rundown of cities that broke or tied their record high temps:

Cecilia Bolon, a reader of the Fitchburg, Mass. Sentinel & Enterprisewrites that the “80-degree weather in February may be enjoyable, but it is also a red flag that cannot be ignored. The time for action is now.”

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About MNgranny

MNgranny has been an activist since the age of 17. After earning a BA in Mass Communications and enjoying a 30 year career, she is now disabled and dedicates her life to that activism. Her experiences include volunteering in community service organizations and taking leadership roles throughout her academic and professional life. She is also a survivor of rape and domestic violence, a published author and a master naturalist. She is also a professional member of the United States Press Association. She has focused for the last several years and specializes in Kurdish history, culture and politics.

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