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Friday, July 28, 2017
NASA: Warm Winter Events in Arctic Becoming More Frequent, Lasting Longer
The N-ICE2015 research vessel Lance on Feb. 15, 2015. During this field campaign, scientists froze their boat into the Arctic sea ice and gathered data from January to June of 2015.
Credits: Paul Dodd / Norwegian Polar Institute
Arctic winter warming events – winter days where temperatures peak above 14 degrees Fahrenheit (minus 10 degrees Celsius) – are a normal part of the climate over the ice-covered Arctic Ocean. But new research by an international team that includes NASA scientists finds these events are becoming more frequent and lasting longer than they did three decades ago.
Because fall and winter is when Arctic sea ice grows and thickens, warmer winter air temperatures will further impede ice growth and expansion, accelerating the effects of global warming in the Arctic.
A new study, published inGeophysical Research Letterson Jul. 10, shows that since 1980, an additional six warming events are occurring each winter in the North Pole region. The study also shows the average length of each event has grown from fewer than two days to nearly two and a half days.
The researchers arrived at the results by gathering and analyzing data from field campaigns, drifting weather stations and buoys across the Arctic Ocean from 1893 to 2017, as well as the ERA-Interim record, a global atmospheric reanalysis provided by the European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts in Reading, UK, from 1979 to 2016.
The findings build on other recent evidence of Arctic winter warming. The winter of 2015-2016, for example, saw temperatures nearly 3.6 degrees Fahrenheit (2 degrees Celsius) warmer than the previous record high monthly winter temperature. At the end of December 2015, scientists recorded a temperature of 36 degrees Fahrenheit (2.2 degrees Celsius) in the Central Arctic, the warmest temperature ever recorded in this region from December through March.