Freakishly Warm Weather Is Preventing Sea Ice Formation in Arctic

Scientists are watching with growing alarm as exceptionally warm air and ocean temperatures are effectively holding winter at bay throughout much of the Arctic, leading to record low sea ice conditions. Researchers in the U.S., Britain, and Denmark say that air temperatures over much of the Arctic Ocean have been about 10 to 20 degrees C (18 to 36 F) above normal this fall, while sea temperatures have been nearly 4 C (7 F) higher than usual in October and November. As a result, sea ice simply isn’t forming in much of the Arctic basin, which further heats up the atmosphere and ocean since dark, open water absorbs far more solar radiation than the reflective white surface of ice and snow. Jennifer Francis of Rutgers University said the region’s temperatures are now “literally off the charts.” Danish satellite remote sensing expert Rasmus Tonboe said the situation in the Arctic is both “surprising and alarming” because sea ice is disappearing faster than climate models had forecast.