December 30, 2015

Arctic hits 40 degrees above average

Al Jazeera America - A storm system has carried unusually warm air into the Arctic, raising temperatures near the North Pole in the last two days to about 40 degrees Fahrenheit above average.

Temperatures in the Arctic rose one to two degrees Celsius (or 1.8 -3.6 F) above freezing in recent days, a phenomenon that has only occurred a few times before, according to Bob Henson, a meteorologist at Weather Underground, a weather service.

“There’s been warm air for weeks over the eastern United States and parts of Europe … and it’s the warmest December on record,” Henson said. “It’s a sign of how much warm air was around when the storm system came, pulling that air to higher latitudes.”

The Arctic is warming about twice as fast as the rest of the world, scientists say. This year was the warmest on record in the region, according to data from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) released earlier this month.

In the world’s northern-most town, Svalbard, Norway, temperatures as high as 47.7 F were recorded at the city’s airport on Wednesday.

“It’s the warmest temperature Svalbard has had in the last 40 years in the months from November to April,” Henson said.

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