The state of the sea ice is behind this. On January 1, 2018, Arctic sea ice extent was at record low for the time of the year. The smaller the extent, the less sunlight gets reflected back into space and is instead absorbed in the Arctic.
At this time of year, though, hardly any sunshine is reaching the Arctic. So, what triggered this destabilization? As the image below indicates, year-to-date average Arctic sea ice volume has been at record low in 2017, which means that there has been very little sea ice underneath the surface throughout 2017.
Warm water will melt the sea ice from below, which keeps the water at greater depth cool. However, when there is little or no sea ice underneath the surface, little or no heat will be absorbed by the process of melting and the heat instead stays in the water, with the danger that it will reach sediments at the bottom of the Arctic Ocean, as illustrated by the image below.
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The images below further illustrate the situation. Surface temperature of the atmosphere near Svalbard was as warm as 7°C or 44.5°F on January 13, 2018 (at green circle, left panel). The sea surface near Svalbard was as warm as 15.9°C or 60.8°F on January 12, 2018, compared to 2.4°C or 36.4°F on January 12 for the period 1981-2011 (at green circle, center panel). Waves as high as 13.04 m or 42.8 ft (at green circle, right panel) batter the North Atlantic along Norway's coast all the way to Svalbard on January 15, 2018.
The image below shows that waves as high as 16.01 m or 52.5 ft are forecast to batter the North Atlantic on January 16, 2018 (green circle, left panel). 100% relative humidity is recorded over the Arctic Ocean on January 15, 2018 (green circle, center panel). The Jet Stream reaches speeds as high as 426 km/h or 264 mph on January 15, 2018 (green circle, right panel).
Similar extreme weather patterns can be seen elsewhere in the Arctic. The image below on the left shows that temperatures as high as 18.5°C or 65.3°F were recorded on Jan. 14 and 15, 2018 in Metlakatla, Alaska. The image below on the right shows that surface temperatures as high as 7.4°C or 45.2°F were reached on January 16, 2018, in Yukon Territory, Canada (at green circle).
In conclusion, as the Arctic is warming up faster than the rest of the world, Jet Streams are getting more wavy, resulting in more extreme weather events. Wind speed accelerates over warmer oceans, pushing more heat into the Arctic Ocean, threatening to cause eruptions of huge amounts of methane from the Arctic Ocean seafloor.
The situation is dire and calls for comprehensive and effective action as described at the Climate Plan.
• Climate Plan
• Warming is accelerating
• 10°C or 18°F warmer by 2021?
• Abrupt Warming - How Much And How Fast?
• Accelerating growth in CO₂ levels in the atmosphere
• High methane levels over the Arctic Ocean on January 14, 2014
• Methane Erupting From Arctic Ocean Seafloor
• 2015 warmest year on record
• Accelerating Warming of the Arctic Ocean
• Arctic Ocean Feedbacks
• Warning of mass extinction of species, including humans, within one decade