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Researchers 'Staggered' by 'Crazy, Crazy' Record-Setting Warm Winter in Arctic

Arctic warming is just a symptom of "disease" that's getting worse, say climate scientists, as U.S. leaders refuse to curb human activities that contribute to climate crisis

Scientists walk across Greenland's glacial ice sheet, examining the effects of climate crisis. This past winter has been the warmest the Arctic has ever seen. (Photo: Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

This past winter has set a worrying record in the Arctic, as scientists examining the effects of climate crisis continue to express dismay at the region's warmest winter since researchers began documenting the climate there.

At the northernmost tip of Greenland, researchers were "staggered" when they recorded more than 60 hours of above-freezing temperatures in February. Before last month, scientists had observed Arctic temperatures rising above freezing only in the month of February, both for brief periods—suggesting that the region is rapidly changing due to the warming of the Earth.

"It's just crazy, crazy stuff," Mark Serreze, director of the National Snow and Ice Data Center (NSIDC) in Boulder, Colorado, told the Associated Press. Serreze is known for his research on the decline of sea ice in the Arctic. "These heat waves—I've never seen anything like this."

"The extended warmth really has staggered all of us," Ruth Mottram, a climate scientist at the Danish Meteorological Institute, said.

In Barrow, Alaska, also known as Utqiaġvik, February was 18 degrees warmer than normal while the whole season was about 14 degrees warmer, according to researchers.

Sea ice in the Arctic Circle also retreated to unprecedented low levels this winter, covering about 5.4 million square miles—62,000 fewer square miles than last year.

The reports of the record-setting Arctic winter come as the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) shuts down parts of its website dedicated to climate science and rolls back regulations meant to limit greenhouse gas emissions.

"The underlying disease that's causing this [Arctic warming] is getting worse," Jennifer Francis said, a research professor at Rutgers University, said. "These are just the symptoms."

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