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.
The Arctic just had its warmest December on record and is currently experiencing a string of records for lowest Arctic sea ice. This is bad news for the US and the rest of the planet. What happens in the Arctic will not stay there. #GlobalWarming https://t.co/DR1u1z7TGb
— NRDC (@NRDC) March 4, 2018
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.”