In December, a team of U.S. government scientists released a “report card” on the Arctic. Their top conclusion was pithy, comprehensive, and bleak. The Arctic, they said, “shows no sign of returning to [the] reliably frozen region of recent past decades.”
Now, it’s almost like the environment is trying to prove them right.
Though the sun hasn’t shone on the central Arctic for more than four months, the region is currently gripped by historic, record-breaking warmth. On Sunday, the temperature at the North Pole rose to about the melting point, and parts of the Arctic were more than 50 degrees Fahrenheit warmer than normal.
A handful of Arctic scientists spent the weekend on Twitter, trying to put the episode into context:
Wow... truly a remarkable event ongoing right now in the #Arctic.— Zack Labe (@ZLabe) February 23, 2018
Current temperatures well above previous years in February (>80°N latitude)! Average temperature is the bright blue line (https://t.co/kO5ufUWrKq). pic.twitter.com/BuseG4hQPE
To understand how strange the recent Arctic weather is, it’s worth looking at a place called Cape Morris Jesup.
Cape Morris Jesup is a barren and uninhabited promontory above the Arctic Ocean. Just 450 miles from the North Pole, it is Greenland’s northernmost point. (In fittingly weird fashion, it’s named after Morris Ketchum Jesup, a terrifically mustachioed American banker who helped found the YMCA and the American Museum of Natural History, and helped fund the Arctic expeditions of Robert Peary.)