... and not in a good way.
The Arctic has, of course, been warming in step with anthropogenic global warming, plus more. This phenomenon has probably increased disruption to global weather systems, especially in the Northern Hemisphere, over the last decade or so.
But something somewhat novel is happening this year, presumably as a result of global warming combined with a strong El Nino. Storms are bringing extra warm conditions to the Arctic. A few days ago, the North Pole was above freezing, and over the next few days we are expecting more warm conditions in the Arctic Circle. See this post by Eric Holthaus.
Figuring that interesting things might be happening in the Arctic, I had a look at the National Snow and Ice Data Center interactive graphic showing Arctic Sea ice cover now and over time. The graphic is at the top of the post. It turns out that Arctic Sea ice is at an historic low for this date, and in fact, looks to be flatlining, at least for now. I presume the ice will expand again shortly when the current influx of warm air to the region subsides, but it will be interesting to see if we end up with a new minimal maximum of sea ice.
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I wonder how much longer, our globe will have two polar icecaps all year round?
We're overheating and out of balance planet~wise and it'll be morbidly interesting to see satellite images of all all blue ice-less summer Arctic - with implications that are more chilling than its waters.
I'd also suggest taking a look at this powerful youtube clip :
'Arctic Sea Ice Minimum Volumes 1979-2015' by Andy Lee Robinson - the most recent in a series of such clips. Really brings home visually, the difference we've made.
Greg, you say that the NP was above freezing a few days ago, which is quite astonishing. Do you have a good source for data of NP temperatures?
No doubt it will be an iconic day when a boat broadcasts pictures from the North Pole and there is very little ice around. That day isn't a long way off and I imagine that most people will think it is a very serious change. The denialists will make themselves very obvious when it happens of course.
George, you can read all about it here.