It was warmer in the Arctic Circle on Sunday than it was in Boston, and scientists are raising alarm about what has been called a "freakish" warming trend in the coldest areas of the globe.
Amid a heatwave in the middle of Arctic winter, temperatures across the Arctic Circle have soared to above freezing for several straight days, a departure of more than 30 degrees from historical averages in some cases. The trend has raised alarms among climate change experts who warn that the effects of man-made global warming are coming faster than anticipated and could have a devastating effect worldwide.
As the Guardian noted, the heatwave is seen both as a "freak event" and as a sign that global warming has eroded the polar vortex, which had kept the Arctic Circle insulated. This Sunday saw the peak of the heatwave, with temperatures reaching as much as 30 degrees above historical averages in Siberia and into the low 40s in the upper tip of Greenland -- a few degrees above the temperature in Boston on Sunday.
The trend has raised alarms among climate scientists.
"This is an anomaly among anomalies. It is far enough outside the historical range that it is worrying – it is a suggestion that there are further surprises in store as we continue to poke the angry beast that is our climate," Michael Mann, director of the Earth System Science Center at Pennsylvania State University, told the Guardian. "The Arctic has always been regarded as a bellwether because of the vicious circle that amplify human-caused warming in that particular region. And it is sending out a clear warning."
Others have struggled to put the arctic warming trend into historical context.
"It's never been this extreme," Ruth Mottram, a climate scientist at the Danish Meteorological Institute (DMI), told the Daily Mail.
As Newsweek noted, the warming trend has thawed the northernmost reaches of Greenland, leaving open water where there once was ice several feet thick. As the U.S. National Snow and Ice Data Center noted, the ice in the Arctic Sea is at a record low 5.4 million square miles, close to 1 million less than normal. The Newsweek report termed the event a "freakish warming trend" and noted that it led to strange weather patterns across Europe, including a rare blizzard warning in Rome.
The Arctic is having its warmest winter as temperatures tip beyond average. https://t.co/hoLJimDXwR
— Twitter Moments (@TwitterMoments) February 26, 2018
And this last weekend may not be the end of it. Climate scientists raised concern that the global warming trend could lead to more contraction of ice in the Arctic Circle, warming waters and disrupting the jet stream, which in turn will lead to more extreme weather events.