While Britain shivers in the “Beast from the East”, scientists say temperatures have risen above freezing repeatedly at the North Pole, reaching as high as 30C above normal for the depths of winter.The cause is a “warm air intrusion” bringing mild and moist air. It is a common feature of Arctic weather systems but this year has been deeper and longer than normal, according to meteorologists.The disturbance is responsible for displacing a blast of chilly Arctic air, sending it streaming over Europe.And it could become more common as a result of man-made climate change, according to scientists, who took to social media to share their extraordinary data.Irvine Zack Labe, a climate researcher at the University of California, tweeted on Sunday: “The extreme event continues to unfold in the high Arctic today in response to a surge of moisture and ‘warmth.'”
The Cape Morris Jesup meteorological site at the northern extreme of Greenland has seen a record-breaking 61 hours of temperatures above freezing so far in 2018, linked to a rare retreat of sea ice in the Arctic winter darkness.”It’s never been this extreme,” said Ruth Mottram, a climate scientist at the Danish Meteorological Institute.To the south, a rare snow storm hit Rome on Monday while commuters in London raced home before wintry weather hit train services.Professor Lars Kaleschke, of Hamburg University, summed up the weather as “wacky”.”The question is whether this weather will happen more often. This is just one event so it’s hard to make a causal relationship,” he told Reuters.However, recent studies have found that warm air intrusions are increasing in frequency. Scientists think the reduction in sea ice on the Arctic Ocean allows warmer water to release heat into the atmosphere, with knock-on effects for the jet stream.