Nov 21, 2016

The Arctic is a Seriously Weird Place Right Now

Arctic
by
Brian Kahn
,
Climate Central
Sea ice extent using JAXA satellite measurements. Image: Zack Labe
Sea ice extent using JAXA satellite measurements. Image: Zack Labe

The sun set on the North Pole more than a month ago, not to rise again until spring. Usually that serves as a cue for sea ice to spread its frozen tentacles across the Arctic Ocean. But in the depths of the polar night, a strange thing started to happen in mid-October. Sea ice growth slowed to a crawl and even started shrinking for a bit.

Intense warmth in both the air and oceans is driving the mini-meltdown at a time when Arctic sea ice should be rapidly growing. This follows last winter, when temperatures saw a huge December spike.