A recent large-scale pattern change affecting most of the Northern Hemisphere has led to significant changes to the weather, specially Europe and the Arctic. In Europe, temperatures will be as much as 45 degrees below normal at times while unusual snowfall continues to impact cities that aren’t so used to seeing snow. That includes Rome, Italy, where about an inch fell, making it the first snowfall in the city in about six years.
Meanwhile in the Arctic, record high temperatures are impacting the region. The northernmost weather station in Greenland saw temperatures soar above freezing on 9 days this month so far, which is unheard of in the middle of winter. This time of the year, the Arctic is in complete darkness due to the Earth’s axis. When comparing the warmth in the Arctic to the extreme chill in Europe, so can see the stark contrast on the map. Weather often likes to balance itself out, and in some cases that happens with these extremes. With a trough delivering the cold to Europe, that is resulting in a monster ridge of high pressure fueling the warmth in the Arctic. Temperatures in the Arctic on Monday averaged out at 5.3 degrees Celsius above average (41.5 degrees Fahrenheit).
Now how does the year of 2018 compare to years in the past for the Arctic? In short: 2018 is a record-breaking year in terms of warmth. According to Climate Scientist, Zack Labe, “total sea ice extent remains a record low for the date (satellite era – from 1979).” This can be shown in the graphic on the left, which highlights the Arctic sea ice extent for each year since 1979. Notice how in the past, there was a greater ice extent compared to now. The red line shows 2018 so far, which is at a record low. In the graphic on the right, this data is even more alarming in a climate change perspective. Based on the data, Zabe says, “2018 is well exceeding previous years (thin lines) for the month of February.” Notice the recent spike in temperatures as of late in the Arctic and how it compares to the past 59 years.