Arctic to be 20C hotter than average in-record breaking North Pole heatwave

'Santa is most likely overdressed ... Maybe in the future we’ll see him in a light jacket or plastic mac'

Peter Walker
Saturday 24 December 2016 14:07
Sea-water levels have risen by almost 7.8 per cent inches since 1870
Sea-water levels have risen by almost 7.8 per cent inches since 1870

The North Pole will be hit by an unprecedented heatwave this Christmas because of man-made climate change, scientists say.

The centre of the Arctic will be 20 degrees hotter than average, at around 0C freezing, on Christmas Eve.

Dr Friederike Otto, a senior researcher at Oxford’s Environmental Change Institute, said scientists are “very confident” that the weather patterns were linked to anthropogenic climate change.

“In all our methods, we find the same thing,” said Dr Otto.

The red colour in this graphic indicates how hot the North Pole is on the night of 23 December, 2016, relative to its average temperature Climate Reanalyzer

“We cannot model a heatwave like this without the anthropogenic signal.”

It follows sea-ice levels reaching record lows this year and the sea-water levels rising by almost 7.8 inches since 1870.

Temperatures in the Arctic throughout November and December have been 5C higher than average.

Warm air from the North Atlantic is forecast to fly over the North Pole, via the Norwegian island of Spitsbergen, on 24 December.

“If the globe is warming, then the sea ice and ice on land [shrinks], then the darker water and land is exposed,” said Dr Otto, speaking to BBC News, who added that this heatwave could occur every other year.

“Then the sunlight is absorbed rather than reflected as it would be by the ice.”

Dr Thorsten Markus, chief of Nasa's Cryospheric Sciences Laboratory, said the heatwave was “very, very unusual” and added that: “The eerie thing is that we saw something quite similar almost exactly a year ago.”

Dr Markus also joked: “Santa is most likely overdressed [for tonight]. Maybe in the future we’ll see him in a light jacket or plastic mac.”

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