The Arctic is supposed to be cold, but right now it’s anything but temperatures at the North Pole are reaching a record high, perhaps as much as 35 degrees Fahrenheit for the month of February, which is warmer than the region usually gets during the summer months, reports popularmechanics.com.
That data comes from the U.S. Global Forecast System, a computer model of the Earth’s weather and climate. While there’s a chance the model is wrong about the temperature, independent measurements have confirmed that the temperature in the area is around freezing temperatures.
That means the Arctic is now about 50 degrees warmer than it usually is this time of year.
It also means Arctic ice is already beginning to melt. This is particularly alarming because the winter months are supposed to be when the Arctic builds ice, and Arctic ice is already at a record low.
So what’s causing the abnormal warming? Scientists believe it’s at least partly due to the lack of Arctic sea ice. January saw one of the lowest ice-building months on record, and the lack of sea ice means the ocean is less insulated from the atmosphere. Without ice, warmer ocean water can heat the atmosphere, leading to the kind of record-breaking warmth seen this past month.
This also suggests that the problem will get exponentially worse, as a lack of sea ice leads to warmer temperatures that prevent the building of more ice. There’s a good chance this month’s record will only last until next winter, and it’s likely this will be one of the last years in which there’s any sea ice in the Arctic oceans at all.