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Pre-Christmas Melt: North Pole To Warm 50 Degrees Than Normal This Week

First Posted: Dec 22, 2016 04:53 AM EST
Ice Sheet
Temperatures in the Arctic are estimated to increase nearly 50 degrees above normal on Dec. 22.
(Photo : Mario Tama/Getty Images)

Temperatures in the Arctic are estimated to increase nearly 50 degrees above normal on Dec. 22 in a pre-Christmas heat wave that might bring the ice sheets in the area near to melting point.

For a second year in a row, the North Pole, which is in perpetual darkness after having no Sun in late October, will feel abnormally high temperatures during the Christmas holiday. However, this is not the first time this happened this year. In fact, the temperatures soared to 36 degrees above normal in November.

The Arctic sea ice has hit its lowest peak in March, second-lowest in September and started shrinking in November, a time when the ice should be growing.

"And when we looked back at previous years, we do see these strange spikes in temperatures that occur every so often," Zack Labe, a doctoral student at the University of California Irvine, told NPR.

"However, when you look over the longer term trend of the last several decades, ignoring those spikes and just focusing on the trend, you see a gradual warming over time and a gradual decrease in the amount of sea ice," he added.

A graphic representation of the high temperatures expected this year shows a giant red area over the pole.

The heat wave expected today has been caused by various factors, including a powerhouse storm east of Greenland, where it pulls warm air up to the Arctic. Since there is a lack of sea ice that acts as a temperature buffer the wind travels up north.

"If nothing is done to slow climate change, by the time global warming reaches 2 ºC (3.6 ºF), events like this winter would become common at the North Pole, happening every few years," the scientists who warned that these irregularities could become a norm if there is no urgent action carried out to curb climate change, Huffington Post reports.

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