"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.'"
The extreme event continues to unfold in the high #Arctic today in response to a surge of moisture and "warmth"
— Zack Labe (@ZLabe) February 25, 2018
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."
In relative terms, 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. pic.twitter.com/3rNmxPTSGc
— Robert Rohde (@rarohde) February 26, 2018
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."
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. https://t.co/i8EWvLGL9e
— Daniel Swain (@Weather_West) February 25, 2018
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."
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. pic.twitter.com/BCgcxAtKng
— Robert Rohde (@rarohde) February 26, 2018
Meteorologist Eric Holthaus tweeted of the unusually warm temperatures there Saturday:
The northernmost permanent weather station in the world, just 440 miles from the North Pole, has warmed to 43°F today -- in the middle of months-long darkness during what is normally the coldest time of the year.
This is simply shocking. I don't have the words. https://t.co/ynX0IkkuAn
— Eric Holthaus (@EricHolthaus) February 24, 2018
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."
The northernmost weather station in the world, Cape Morris Jesup in Greenland has been above freezing nearly all day.
SCROLL TO CONTINUE WITH CONTENT
An existential threat to our democracy. A global pandemic. An unprecedented economic crisis. Our journalism has never been more needed.
Can you pitch in today and help us make our Fall Campaign goal of $80,000 by November 2nd?
Please select a donation method:
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. pic.twitter.com/aGkccjJd1g
— Robert Rohde (@rarohde) February 20, 2018
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.
There is open water north of #Greenland where the thickest sea ice of the #Arctic used to be. It is not refreezing quickly because air temperatures are above zero confirmed by @dmidk's weather station #KapMorrisJesup. Wacky weather continues with scary strength and persistence. pic.twitter.com/YMnvCD8XvL
— Lars Kaleschke (@seaice_de) February 25, 2018
"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."
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:
A "winter" day in Eastern USA. 24 locations broke or tied record high temperatures for the entire month of February on Wednesday, incl Washington DC and Newark NJ at 80°F (27°C), per @NWSEastern. pic.twitter.com/DvBuZg1GBp
— WMO | OMM (@WMO) February 22, 2018
Cecilia Bolon, a reader of the Fitchburg, Mass. Sentinel & Enterprise, writes 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."