MARRAKESH, Morocco, Tuesday November 29, 2016 – As polar night bears down on the Arctic, bringing long periods of darkness and usually frigid weather, temperatures in the region have hit more than 36 degrees Fahrenheit above normal.
In some parts of Arctic Russia, the anomalies went even higher than 40 degrees, moreover, causing shock and concern among experts.
According to Petteri Taalas, Secretary-General of the World Meteorological Organisation (WMO): “In parts of Arctic Russia, temperatures were 6°C to 7°C [42.8-44.7°F] above the long-term average.
“Many other Arctic and sub-Arctic regions in Russia, Alaska, and northwest Canada were at least 3°C [37.4°F] above average.
“We are used to measuring temperature records in fractions of a degree, and so this is different,” he pointed out.
WMO officials added that although the autumn refreeze (a period during which the ice cover grows thicker and stronger following the summer melt) has begun, it is happening far slower than normal.
At the end of October, sea ice extent hit a record-breaking low for that time of year.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) said that the average Arctic sea ice area for October was 28.5 percent below the 1981-2010 average, the smallest extent of ice for the month since records began in 1979.
Experts have also taken to Twitter to express their shock at the alarming trend.
Daniel Swain, a climate scientist at UCLA, tweeted: “Despite onset of #PolarNight, temperatures near #NorthPole increasint. Extraordinary situation right now in #Arctic, w/record low #sea ice.”
The unusual temperatures come as the earth is on track for its warmest year on record after October temperatures equalled the third-warmest for the month ever.
October globally was 1.31 Fahrenheit (0.73 Celsius) above the 20th century average of 57.1 F (13.9 C) and tying it with 2003 as the third-warmest October on record, NOAA said in a statement.
For the year through October, the average global temperature was 1.75 F (0.97 C) above average, topping the record set in 2015 by 0.18 F (0.1 C).
“With only two months left in the year, the globe remains on track to be one of the warmest years, if not the warmest, in the 122-year record,” the agency said.
The US weather agency’s report came as negotiators met in Morocco to hammer out the details of the historic 2015 Paris accord aimed at staving off climate change.
The talks were overshadowed by concerns that US President-elect Donald Trump, who has called climate change a hoax, would pull out of the accord.