“The Arctic has been in uncharted territory pretty much all year long”
Santa Claus may need to rethink his wardrobe.
The North Pole has seen record-sweltering temperatures lately, which, combined with declining levels of sea ice, deeply worries researchers (and should worry regular people, too). According to a study out of the University of Maine’s Climate Change Institute, the North Pole is a whopping 36 degrees Fahrenheit (20 degrees Celsius) warmer than in past decades. Researchers also found that the arctic region was 13 degrees Fahrenheit (7.2 degrees Celsius) warmer last week than it has been in past years.
Today's latest #Arctic mean temperature continues to move the wrong direction... up. Quite an anomalous spike! https://t.co/C93cQWUKV9— Zack Labe (@Zack Labe) 1479241458
That’s surprising news, says The Washington Post, given that the sun doesn’t rise much in the region at this point in the season—a phenomenon known as polar night. This autumn, global sea ice also hit a record low. The Washington Post reported that Arctic sea ice is actually beginning to freeze as winter sets in, but is doing so more slowly and less robustly than usual.
ClimateReanalyzer.org Climate Change Institute The University of Maine
Sea ice is, of course, helpful in reflecting the sun’s rays back to space. Without it, the ocean around the Arctic warms up. Things get even worse due to clouds formed by increased evaporation. These clouds trap more warmth, thus altering the conditions of the permafrost, the melting of which is why we’re currently afraid of countries disappearing due to sea levels rising. In sum, it’s not a pretty picture.
“The Arctic has been in uncharted territory pretty much all year long, ever since last fall,” Jennifer Francis, a research professor in the Department of Marine and Coastal Sciences at Rutgers University, told Live Science.
Thinning ice is one of the causes of warmer Arctic temperatures. Another is the jet stream, which is moving warmer air further north lately. Recent research speculates that causes of this wavy jet stream are due to the Arctic warming faster than the air around the equator.
This is all just one piece of a larger puzzle. Climate change has meant that this year will likely be the warmest for our planet in recorded history. With a climate change denier heading toward the highest office in the land, things don’t look like they’re going to get any better in the near future, unless we—along with major energy corporations—decide to move forward without him.