As record-shattering temperatures in February essentially nullified winter for much of the world, Alaska is being forced to haul in tons of snow this week to accommodate the state's famous Iditarod dogsled race.
The 1,000-mile Iditarod has its ceremonial start on March 5 in Anchorage, where temperatures have been in the 40s all week, an Anchorage resident and Alaska Railroad spokesperson told Business Insider. The website reports that the city is hauling in 300 cubic yards of snow via rail from the northern city of Fairbanks.
Officials were already forced to move the race north last winter when sections of the original trail were left entirely bare of snow.
Meanwhile, record-breaking heat wreaked havoc around the world in February. "For many parts of the planet, there basically wasn’t a winter," meteorologist and Slate staff writer Eric Holthaus observed.
The Weather Channel this week reported record monthly highs in cities throughout the United States, while Weather Underground observed that unusually hot temperatures are to blame for tumultuous weather in Europe and Asia, as well. As Common Dreams reported, the island nation of Fiji was pummeled by a record-setting cyclone in late February.
Slate's Holthaus also noted that some parts of the Arctic felt temperatures 30 degrees above average last month, and scientists are witnessing the lowest level of winter ice cover in the Arctic ever recorded.
Biological anthropologist Greg Laden wondered in ScienceBlogs, "Are we witnessing an Arctic sea meltdown, right now?"
Holthaus observed that the month's rise in temperatures marks the remarkable speed with which the globe is heating up from man-made climate change:
Keep in mind that it took from the dawn of the industrial age until last October to reach the first 1.0 degree Celsius, and we’ve come as much as an extra 0.4 degrees further in just the last five months. Even accounting for the margin of error associated with these preliminary datasets, that means it’s virtually certain that February handily beat the record set just last month for the most anomalously warm month ever recorded. That’s stunning.
The meteorologist warned, "We could now be right in the heart of a decade or more surge in global warming that could kick off a series of tipping points with far-reaching implications on our species and the countless others we share the planet with."