The Arctic is currently going through one of its warmest winters on record as temperatures continue an upwards trend and see ice continues to disappear at an astonishing rate.
This last weekend, Arctic temperatures were above 32°F (0°C) at cape Morris Jesup, a weather station at the northernmost point of mainland Greenland. At it’s peak, temperatures were as high as 43°F (6.1°C).
These soaring temperatures have caused the ice to open up and reveal open water north of Greenland. Typically, the water north of the nation is the thickest sea ice would be found.
“It is not refreezing quickly because air temperatures are above zero,” Professor Lars Kaleschke from the University of Hamburg, who specializes in remote sensing of sea ice, wrote on Twitter.
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
Arctic temperatures right now are at times higher than Europe, which is simultaneously being affected by cold air from Siberia dubbed the “Beast from the East”.
Graphs shared by Zack Labe from the University of California, Irvine, showed alarming rises in average daily Arctic temperatures, well above the average.
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
At the same time, sea ice in the Bering Sea near Alaska continues to diminish. The total sea ice in the Arctic is at a record low for February in the satellite era, which began in 1979.
During winter, when the Arctic is also in perpetual darkness, temperatures usually hover around the -30°C (-22°F) mark. Temperatures above freezing have only been reported at Cape Morris Jesup for up to 16 hours before, in April 2011, but it has happened for more than 60 hours already in 2018.
Researchers believe the main cause of the warming temperatures is the result of a weakening polar vortex, which keeps high-latitude cold air from warmer air further south. As a result of the weakened system, warm air is now streaming to the poles, in turn sending cold air the opposite way.