Wednesday 24 February 2016

Heatwave in the Arctic

Arctic Winter Heatwave

22 February, 2016

The Arctic is experiencing a heatwave in winter, with temperature anomalies on February 23, 2016, averaging 7.84°C or 14.11°F higher than what was common 1979-2000.

TThe forecast for 6:00 UTC on February 23, 2016, shows an anomaly of 8.17°C or 14.71°F.

Temperatures in January 2016 over the Arctic Ocean were 7.3°C (13.1°F) higher than in 1951-1980, according to NASA data, as illustrated by the graph on the right, from an earlier post.

These high temperatures go hand in hand with sea ice extent that is much lower for this time of year than since records started.

As discussed in an earlier post, low sea ice extent is fueling fears that this year's maximum extent was already reached on February 9, 2016.

A much higher ocean temperature is behind both the low sea ice extent and the high temperature anomalies.

Ocean temperatures are particularly high where the Gulf Stream pushes water from Atlantic Ocean into the Arctic Ocean, as illustrated by the image below that compares sea surface temperature anomalies in the Arctic between the years 2015 and 2016 for February 22nd.

This spells bad news for the sea ice in 2016, since El NiƱo is still going strong and ocean temperature keeps rising, as illustrated by the NOAA global ocean temperature anomalies graph for January below.
The situation is dire and calls for comprehensive and effective action, as described in the Climate Plan.

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