Surface air temperatures near Svalbard were as high as 5.2°C or 41.4°F near Svalbard on February 3, 2019. At the same time, it was as cold as -3.5°C or 25.6°F in Africa.
The contrast was even more profound on February 4, 2018, when at those same spots it was as cold as -10°C or 13.9°F in Africa, while at the same time it was as warm as 5.8 or 42.4°F near Svalbard.
How is this possible?
As the Arctic warms up faster than the rest of the world, the temperature difference between the North Pole and the Equator narrows, making the jet stream wavier, thus enabling cold air from the Arctic to descend further south, as illustrated by the image on the right, showing instantaneous wind power density at 250 hPa (jet stream) on February 4, 2018.
|[ NOAA Climate.gov cartoon by Emily Greenhalgh ]|
Furthermore, as oceans get warmer, the temperature difference between land and oceans increases in Winter. This larger temperature difference results in stronger winds that can carry more warm, moist air inland, e.g. into the U.S., as illustrated by the cartoon on the right.
As the jet stream becomes wavier, this also enables more heat to enter the Arctic.
On December 8, 2018, the sea surface temperature near Svalbard was 18.2°C or 32.7°F warmer than 1981-2011. On January 23, 2019, sea surface temperatures at that spot were as high as 18.3°C or 64.9°F, as illustrated by the image on the right, from an earlier post.
A warmer sea surface can cause winds to grow dramatically stronger, and they can push warm, moist air into the Arctic, while they can also speed up sea currents that carry warm, salty water into the Arctic Ocean.
As warmer water keeps flowing into the Arctic Ocean and as air temperatures in the Arctic are now starting to rise on the back of a strengthening El Niño, fears for a Blue Ocean Event are rising.
Rivers can also carry huge amounts of warm water from North America and Siberia into the Arctic Ocean, as these areas are getting hit by ever stronger heatwaves that are hitting the Arctic earlier in the year.
With Arctic sea ice at a low, it won't be able to act as a buffer to absorb heat for long, with the danger that an influx of warm, salty water will reach the seafloor and trigger methane eruptions.
Ominously, the image below shows peak methane levels as high as 2764 ppb on February 2, 2019.
The situation is dire and calls for comprehensive and effective action, as described in the Climate Plan.
See also Dave Borlace's video below:
• How frigid polar vortex blasts are connected to global warming, by Jennifer Francis
• Are record snowstorms proof that global warming isn’t happening?
• Accelerating growth of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere
• Dangerous situation in Arctic
• Blue Ocean Event
• Climate Plan