The north pole gets no sunlight until March, but an influx of warm air has pushed temperatures in Siberia up by as much as 35C above historical averages this month. Greenland has already experienced 61 hours above freezing in 2018 - more than three times as many hours as in any previous year.
Seasoned observers have described what is happening as "crazy," "weird," and "simply shocking".
"This is an anomaly among anomalies. It is far enough outside the historical range that it is worrying -- it is a suggestion that there are further surprises in store as we continue to poke the angry beast that is our climate," said Michael Mann, director of the Earth System Science Center at Pennsylvania State University. [...]
But the heat peaks are becoming more frequent and lasting longer -- never more so than this year. "In 50 years of Arctic reconstructions, the current warming event is both the most intense and one of the longest-lived warming events ever observed during winter," said Robert Rohde, lead scientist of Berkeley Earth, a non-profit organisation dedicated to climate science. [...]
"This is too short-term an excursion to say whether or not it changes the overall projections for Arctic warming," says Mann. "But it suggests that we may be underestimating the tendency for short-term extreme warming events in the Arctic. And those initial warming events can trigger even greater warming because of the 'feedback loops' associated with the melting of ice and the potential release of methane (a very strong greenhouse gas)."
An alarming heatwave in the sunless winter Arctic is causing blizzards in Europe and forcing scientists to reconsider even their most pessimistic forecasts of climate change.