Heat Wave in North Pole on December 31 2015 05:40 PM (UTC).
The North Pole is experiencing a heatwave as temperatures came close to melting point yesterday, making the Arctic region warmer than some major cities in Europe and the US. According to ocean measurements from the North Pole Environmental Observatory, the mercury tipped -1.9°C (28.6°F) on Wednesday as the Arctic bathed in an unseasonably warm spell. The hike in temperature is reportedly due to the same low pressure system which has brought flood chaos to England and Scotland, and made areas of the Arctic up to 35˚C (63°F) warmer than the seasonal average. Earlier this week, meteorologists tracking the path of a powerful North Atlantic storm over Iceland had forecast that the Arctic temperatures could peak above freezing, with the storm being one of the strongest on record and wind speeds of up to 230mph (370km/h). Typically, the Arctic would be expected to be somewhere in the depths of up to -35°C (-31°F) in December, with 24 hour darkness. But while large fluctuations of up to 30°F in air temperature are fairly typical in the Arctic, this latest weather system was expected to push the variability to as high as 50°F or 60°F. Although no instruments for measuring temperature are operating on the North Pole to provide precise reading for the temperature spike, experts indicate temperatures may have pushed past zero. Data pulled from one ocean buoy in the Arctic reported a temperature spike of 0.7°C, but Ryan Maue, a meteorologist at US company Weather Bell said on Twitter this data may have a large range of uncertainty. Meteorologist Bob Henson, from WeatherUnderground, added that the December temperatures at the North Pole have only reached or gone above freezing just three times since 1948, but none during between January and March. By comparison, yesterday's lowest temperature in Vienna was -1°C (-30°F) while Chicago was -2°C (28°F). The same low pressure system responsible for the Arctic warmth is responsible for Storm Frank, which hit the UK with winds of 85mph (137km/h). BBC weatherman Simon King, tweeted: 'A bit warm at the North Pole! Thanks to Storm Frank the temp is a very rare +1°C compared to the average -28°C.' More weather disruption is expected over the New Year. Earlier this month, the average air temperature over Arctic land reached 2.3°F (1.3°C) above average for the year ending in September. That's the highest since observations began in 1900. A larger than expected El Nino event in the Pacific Ocean is disrupting air currents, which is having a knock on effect on weather patterns around the world, including the North Atlantic. Monitoring the weather event from space, Nasa has warned that satellite data indicate that this year's El Nino could be as strong as that of 1997 and 1998 which was the strongest on record. The phenomenon is the result of a shift in the distribution of warm water in the Pacific Ocean around the equator.