Parts of Arctic +21C above normal in January
By Stephen Leahy
UXBRIDGE, Canada, Jan 28, 2011 (IPS)
The world’s northern freezer is on rapid defrost as large volumes of warm water are pouring into the Arctic Ocean, speeding the melt of sea ice, according to a new study.
Surface temperatures in parts of the Arctic have been 21 degrees C above normal for more than a month in recent weeks.
“Boats were still in the water during the first week of January,” said David Phillips, a senior climatologist with Environment Canada, referring to southern Baffin Island, some 2,000 km north of Montreal. This is a region that receives just four or five hours of weak sunlight during the long winter. Temperatures normally range from -25 to -35 degrees C but were above zero on some days in January.
“It’s impossible for many people in parts of the eastern Arctic to safely get on the ice to hunt much-needed food for their families – for the second winter in a row,” Phillips said in a report.
The warming and melting of the Arctic is happening much faster than expected and new data reveals that huge volumes of warmer water from the North Atlantic are now flowing into and warming up the Arctic Ocean, researchers reported Friday in the journal Science.
“In the past hundred years the waters in the Fram Strait have warmed about two degrees C,” says co-author Thomas Marchitto, of Colorado University’s Institute of Arctic and Alpine Research.