Arctic warming causes concern among scientists

While Europe freezes, the polar region continues to see unprecedented warm weather.

    Most of the coverage of Europe’s weather over the last week or so has been, rightly, focused on the so-called, ‘Beast from the East’ and the Sudden Stratospheric Warming’ (SSW).

    Both SSW and the intense anticyclone that caused frigid Siberian air to sweep across Europe are entirely natural events, albeit quite infrequent. The same cannot be said for some of the weather anomalies being reported in the Arctic region.

    Scientists understanding of the polar regions, in general, is limited. An accurate database of instrument readings extends back just a few decades, and reliable satellite data from the region only became available in the 1970s.

    Nevertheless, many climate scientists are concerned about the extent of the recent warming in the region, which appears to be accelerating at a dramatic rate.

    In the last week, temperatures have reached above freezing (0 degrees Celsius) at the North Pole.

    It is important to remember, that the region is in the depths of winter, with almost total darkness.

    Even more remarkably, the weather station on the northern tip of Greenland, Cape Morris Jesup, recorded a temperature of 6.1C on Sunday, and temperatures remained above freezing there for 61 hours, a new record.

    This month there have been 10 days above freezing for at least part of the day at this weather station, which lies just 700km from the North Pole.

    According to Ruth Mottram of the Danish Meteorological Institute, “spikes in temperature are part of the normal weather patterns – what has been unusual about this event is that it has persisted for so long and that it has been so warm.”

    She added: “Going back to the late 1950s at least, we have never seen such high temperatures in the high Arctic.”

    Speaking to Live Science, James Overland, an oceanographer with Pacific Marine Environmental Laboratory said: “We’ve seen something like this once every 10 years in the past, but this is the second major example of this happening in the last couple of years. What’s different this time is that we have less ice and thinner ice in the Arctic. When you bring warmer air north, it doesn’t cool off as fast as it used to.

    All this is hardly surprising as 2015, 2016 and 2017 are the three warmest years globally since records began in 1880. The Arctic region is warming at a much greater rate than anywhere else. Globally, temperatures have risen by about 1C in the last 100 years, but in the Arctic region, the warming is closer to 3C.

    This has resulted in a sustained year-on-year decrease in the extent of sea ice, and what coverage there is, is of much thinner, younger ice than in the past.

    Climate scientists disagree as to the extent to which the current warming is directly attributable to human-induced climate change.

    Zeke Hausfather of Berkley Earth, an independent, non-profit climate science organisation remains doubtful.

    “The current excursions of 20C or more above average experienced in the Arctic are almost certainly mostly due to natural variability. While they have been boosted by the underlying warming trend, we don’t have any strong evidence that the factors driving short-term Arctic variability will increase in a warming world,” he said

    But Michael Mann, director of the Earth System Science Center at Pennsylvania State University, takes a different view.

    “This is an anomaly among anomalies,” Mann said.

    “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,” he added. 

    “The Arctic has always been regarded as a bellwether because of the vicious circle that amplifies human-caused warming in that particular region. And it is sending out a clear warning.”

    What is clear is that the weakening of the polar vortex, because of the warming in the region, makes the climate more unstable. This encourages longwave ridges and troughs to develop in the flow around the Arctic Circle.

    Plunges of cold air across Europe and domes of warm air across the Arctic could become more frequent events in the years ahead. 

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    Day stalls in wild weather, but no white flag at Pebble Beach

    Jason Day insists it won't take a miracle to reel in 54-hole leader Paul Casey with wild weather forecast to continue for the final round of the Pebble Beach Pro Am.

    Day fell six shots behind Casey during Saturday's third round as heavy rain and strong winds lashed California's Monterey Peninsula.

    Jason Day fell back from the lead during the third round at Pebble Beach.Credit:AP

    Playing alongside two amateurs per the event's format, Day's round took six hours with his group taking 45 minutes to complete the par-five second while officials swept pools of water off the green.

    Despite the conditions, former world No.1 Day failed to capitalise on superb ball-striking.

    He found 10 of 14 fairways and 14 of 18 greens in regulation but missed several short birdie putts to post an even-par 72 and a nine under total.

    England veteran Casey shot an impressive 67 at the difficult Spyglass Hill course to climb to 15-under the card, earning a three-shot lead over Phil Mickelson (70).

    Former US Open winner Lucas Glover (70) and fellow American Scott Piercy (69) share third at 11 under.

    With heavy rain and winds up to 25km/h predicted for Sunday, local time, Day says he's still a good chance to steal victory.

    "I don't have to do anything crazy tomorrow to win the tournament, I would say," Day said.

    He is also inspired by an impressive record at the event, posting five top-six results from nine previous appearances.

    Helping his quest is the fact Casey is not a prolific frontrunner, winning just one PGA Tour event from the four times he has held a 54-hole lead.

    "Conditions are going to be tough," Day said.

    "I know I can get out early and post a number, something that's significantly in the 60s, and put a little bit of pressure on those guys."

    Searching for his fifth PGA Tour victory at Pebble Beach, Mickelson welcomed the brutal forecast.

    "I don't mind if it gets really rough … to have my best chance, the weather would have to come in," he said.

    Curtis Luck (73) was next best of the Australians at five under, while countrymen Cameron Davis (72) and Matt Jones made the three-under cut on the number.

    Adam Scott bogeyed the 18th for a 71, finishing at two under alongside John Senden (69).

    Given they finished between 60th and 71st, Scott and Senden made the event's 54-hole cut but not the final round.

    Ryan Ruffels (one under) Aaron Baddeley (one over) and Rod Pampling (nine over) all missed the cut.


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    UK weather forecast – Britain faces FREEZING FOG overnight in -9C mini ice blast before 60mph gales

    A yellow weather warning was in place across much of Scotland for snow and ice until 12pm today, with up to 6cm expected on higher ground.

    And the deep freeze in some parts will continue to be felt tonight, with the potential for lows of -9C in regions of eastern Scotland.

    Elsewhere, temperatures of -2C and -3C "could be felt quite widely" tonight ahead of a freezing, foggy and frosty start tomorrow, the Met Office warned.


    Forecaster Simon Partridge said that milder weather will be accompanied by strong rain and gales from tomorrow as the jet stream moves north, driving wet and windy weather our way.

    “We could see up to 50mph across the west coast of Scotland tonight and even to the east of Scotland through to the early hours," he said.

    “On Friday, we could see 40-50mph around the coast 30-40mph inland.

    “There’s the potential even for 60mph – but we’ll have to see as it goes.

    “If it did get to that level we would have to issue wind warnings, which is currently not projected.”

    Flood alerts were issued throughout the South West as heavy rain swept in today after days of ice and snow in many parts of the UK.

    The north will see a dry and bright morning but this will turn wet and windy from the the west through the day.


    Freezing fog and gales aside, temperatures have been returning to normal for February, with up to 11C expected in the South West, up to 9C in the South East and Midlands and 6C in Scotland.

    Mr Partridge added: "It is definitely back on track in terms of temperature, where they should be for the time of year, back to a more traditional UK winter for at least a week.

    "The rest of the week is just more unsettled weather."

    The warmer temperatures come after a low of minus 11.7C was recorded at Chillingham Barns in Northumberland in the early hours of Sunday morning, the Met Office said.

    But while it was the coldest night of the year so far in England it was not as cold as parts of Scotland, where temperatures fell as low as minus 12.6C at Braemar in the Highlands.


    But the warmer spell ahead won't last for long, as forecasters warned Britain is set to be hit with a -16C Valentine's freeze too cold for gritters and yet MORE heavy snow.

    February 14 could be the coldest weather for NINE years as icy conditions return.

    Forecaster Simon Partridge said: “We’ve got a lot more winter to get through. Most forecast models agree temperatures will dip again from around February 14 onwards.”

    The wintry conditions are expected to continue into the half-term break from February 18.

    Forecasters warned that the Atlantic low pressure systems will track further to the south, bringing slightly wetter conditions across the UK.

    The Met Office warned: "There is the possibility that frontal systems may bring wintry hazards, particularly if a more east or northeasterly flow develops. Temperatures overall around the average.

    They added: "We spent last week on the cold side of the jet stream. It's going to be much milder this week as the jet stream moves north, driving wet and windy weather our way".

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    Snow traps thousands of cars on Italy motorway, 200 occupants rescued

    MILAN (Reuters) – Thousands of vehicles were stuck in long queues caused by heavy snow on Italy’s A22 motorway on Saturday, and firefighters rescued 200 people who had been trapped for hours in cars and buses.

    Queues on the route connecting northeastern regions to Austria reached 16 km (9.94 miles), said a spokesperson for the firefighters of the autonomous province of Bolzano.

    He added it was hard to assess the number of vehicles involved but they were in the “thousands”.

    Firefighters’ vehicles were used to evacuate about 200 people in need after they had been trapped for hours, with temperatures around freezing, the spokesperson said.

    Due to bad weather several heavy vehicles, which were not equipped for winter circulation, had swerved, blocking circulation. An avalanche hit the motorway on Saturday morning, but no vehicles were present on that stretch of the motorway.

    Some traffic started moving again in the late afternoon but many vehicles were still trapped. No casualties were reported.

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    Part of eastern Australia hit by once-in-a-century floods, braces for more rain

    MELBOURNE (Reuters) – Once-in-a-century flooding in part of the eastern Australian state of Queensland looks set to worsen as the nation’s weather bureau on Saturday warned of more heavy rain in the area.

    Some residents have already been evacuated after days of monsoon rains lashed the region around the coastal city of Townsville in north Queensland, a spokesman for the Bureau of Meteorology said.

    Adam Blazak, a forecaster with the bureau, did not say how many people had been evacuated, but added that some areas had reached “major” flood levels.

    “Normally a monsoonal burst might last a few days, but this one’s been going on over a week now and is set to continue for a few more days as well,” he said.

    Between 150 mm and 200 mm of rain is expected across Townsville on Saturday – equal to about a month’s average rainfall.

    Local authorities issued a number of flood warnings on Saturday morning and told residents to avoid using roads and consider moving to higher ground if conditions worsen.

    North Queensland has significant zinc reserves as well as major deposits of silver, lead, copper and iron ore, with Townsville a major processing center for the region’s base metals.

    In stark contrast, wildfires in the southern island state of Tasmania have burnt through close to 190,000 hectares of land, fire officials said.

    Chris Arnold, the chief officer of the Tasmania Fire Service, said on Saturday that nearly 600 personnel were working to contain the fires, some of which have been burning for weeks and have destroyed homes.

    Arnold told reporters that while the last few days have seen favorable conditions for battling the blazes, communities in part of the state were still under threat as expected hot and dry weather on Sunday could see bushfires escalate again.

    Australia endured its hottest month on record in January, with sweltering conditions expected to persist through April. That scorching weather triggered power outages in some areas and sent electricity prices soaring.

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    US weather – -60c Mid West polar vortex so cold people’s hair is FREEZING on end as 12 are killed and thousands of flights cancelled

    Vast swathes of the country are colder than Antarctica amid warnings not to go outside due to INSTANT frostbite in the -60C (-76F) windchill blast.

    The polar vortex, dragging in extreme arctic temperatures, has led to emergency measures in Minnesota, Iowa, Illinois, Wisconsin and Michigan.

    Among the worst affected cities is Chicago – where daytime highs reached only a bitter -15C (5F) – leading to frozen pipes, roads turning to ice blocks and the threat of frostbite in just minutes.

    NBC Storm Team 5 meteorologist Andy Avalos warned those in Chicago: “If you don’t have to go outside today, don’t."

    He added: "Wind chill values are -45F to -55F which could lead to frostbite and hypothermia in just a matter of minutes to any exposed skin."

    The lowest wind chill recorded was a teeth-chattering -61C (-77F) at Thief River Falls, Minnesota, on Tuesday evening, according to AccuWeather.

    More than 2,600 flights were cancelled on Wednesday due to freak snowsqualls – with more travel chaos at US airports expected on Thursday.


    In Iowa, the body of 18-year-old student Gerald Belz was found behind an academic hall in Iowa City just before 3am on Wednesday by campus police.

    Belz's family told KCRG that doctors did not find alcohol in his system – and the National Weather Service says the wind chill around 3am was -51F.

    An 82-year-old man in central Illinois died in the cold weather after authorities say he was found several hours after he fell trying to get into his home in Peoria County.

    At least two people – including a 70-year-old – died in the Detroit area of Illinois on Wednesday.

    A zebra died at a farm in northern Indiana due to the extreme cold gripping the region.


    As many as 27 cars and other vehicles were involved in a huge highway pile-up in Pennsylvania just after 1pm on Wednesday.

    The chain-reaction smash was blamed on a freak snow squall causing whiteout conditions on Route 222, about 60 miles west of Philadelphia.

    About nine injured motorists were taken to hospital.

    And around an hour later, a second pileup was reported on Interstate 78 near Hamburg, roughly 30 miles away involving 14 vehicles although injures were said to be minor.

    There was also a 20-car pileup Wednesday in New York on the state's thruway. About 20 cars were involved in the crash between Buffalo and Rochester, state police said.

    FlightAware monitoring service said the weather forced the cancellation of 2,622 flights nationwide on Wednesday.

    A total of 1,359 flights are cancelled for Thursday – but conditions are expected to improve heading into the weekend.

    The freezing weather has prompted the cancellation of nearly 60 percent of flights scheduled for Wednesday at Chicago's two main airports, O'Hare International and Midway International.

    Temperatures in parts of the frigid Midwest were beating even the most frigid areas in the world on Wednesday.

    The temperature in Minneapolis, Minnesota, plunged to -32C – warmer than the balmy -31.7C forecast at the Amundsen-Scott South Pole Station in Antarctica.

    The intensity of this cold air, I would say, is once in a generation

    As many as 139 million Americans were under a wind chill advisory or wind chill warning as of midday on Wednesday.

    Mail delivery was suspended in ten states due to the bitter cold – Nebraska, North Dakota, South Dakota, Minnesota, Iowa, Wisconsin, Illinois, Indiana, Michigan and Ohio.

    As many as 22 states recorded sub-zero temperatures on Wednesday – nearly half the country.

    John Gagan, a National Weather Service (NWS) meteorologist, said: "The intensity of this cold air, I would say, is once in a generation."

    Officials in Iowa warned people to "avoid taking deep breaths, and to minimise talking" in order to protect their lungs from the freezing air.

    The NWS warned that frostbite is possible within just ten minutes of being outside in such extreme temperatures.

    In Chicago, where thieves were seen mugging residents for expensive warm coats – and police stations opened their doors to the homeless.

    Kathryn Prociv, a meteorologist for NBC News, said: "Historic cold, unprecedented cold, these are all adjectives you could use to describe this.

    "These are some of the coldest temperatures an entire generation has ever felt, talking about the millennials.

    "A lot of these temperatures will be the coldest since about 1994, when a lot of them were just being born."


    The deadly polar vortex has proved so cold that it has literally caused Hell to freeze over.

    The small Michigan town – well known for its Satanic name – is right in the path of the polar plunge.

    Temperatures here reached a deadly -25C on Wednesday night – forcing businesses to shut down.

    Groundskeeper Jerry Duffie told ClickOnDetroit: "It's a brutal day in Hell. It's colder than Hell".


    The bitter cold is being carried by the polar vortex, a stream of air that spins around the stratosphere over the North Pole, but whose current has been disrupted and is now pushing south.

    Including the wind chill factor, parts of the Dakotas, Wisconsin and Minnesota were due to see life-threatening temperatures as low as -75F (-60C) on Wednesday, forecasters said.

    US President Donald Trump drew controversy with his reaction to the freezing conditions, urging global warming to "come back fast" in a bizarre tweet.

    The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration was forced to explain that winter storms do NOT prove that global warming isn't happening.

    They added that severe snowstorms may even be more likely because of climate change.

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    Thursday's London weather forecast — early fog slow to clear with rain and snow arriving in the afternoon

    Rain and snow will arrive by the afternoon and could be occasionally heavy, risking disruption.

    London weather forecast for 6am on Thursday January 31

    London weather forecast for 12pm on Thursday January 31

    UK outlook for Friday February 1 to Sunday February 3

    THERE will be more snow and rain in southern regions on Friday but will gradually ease.

    Saturday will be mostly sunny but cold and Sunday, more rain, sleet and snow arriving.

    UK outlook for Monday February 4 to Thursday February 28

    ON Monday, wintry conditions will clear but further sleet, rain and snow will return on the Tuesday.

    Temperatures are set to stay cold with frost and icy conditions likely overnight.

    After a cold start to the month, there may be a small period where temperatures return closer to normal but after this, there's a chance of the weather becoming even colder.

    From mid-month, cold conditions are set to dominate through to late February.

    It's likely to be a mixture of wintry showers

    Thursday's temperatures for London

    • Contains public sector information licensed under the Open Government Licence v1.0



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    Unusually cool weather grips Singapore

    A monsoon burst brought flooding and a relative chill to the Malay Peninsula and Singapore.

      Friday morning saw temperatures dip below 22C in Singapore. This may not seem particularly cold, but it depends what you are used to.

      Singapore is a little over one degree north of the equator, and every day of the year, the expected maximum temperature is at least 30C. Every night, it drops no lower than 23C. Relative humidity remains high, always over 85 percent.

      According to data on the Meteorological Service Singapore website, its stations in Admiralty and Ang Mo Kio recorded 21.9C on Thursday night. For comparison, the lowest temperature recorded in Singapore, since records began in 1929, was 19.4C in 1934.

      This spell of abnormally cool weather is the result of a monsoon burst combined with a Sumatra squall. This is the wet season during the northeast monsoon and spells of heavy rain do occur. On Monday, and unusually for January, a squall of wind from Sumatra caused a burst of rain: 45mm fell in three hours, bringing flooding to eastern Singapore.

      It has been raining continuously since Wednesday and temperatures have been steadily dropping. Since the Sumatra squall, winds have been blustery and from just west of north. Conditions should return to normal by the end of the weekend.

      Singapore has not had the worst of it. Heavy rain has been falling during the last two days throughout peninsular Malaysia. In Mersing, on the east coast and some 150km to the north of Singapore, 330mm have been recorded over the last two days. That exceeds the average for the whole of January.

      Kuala Lumpur has felt the cool weather, too. The maximum temperature on both Thursday and Friday was 25C. On average, a January day should bring 32C. Overnight lows have also been dropping, hitting 21C on Thursday night, but only two degrees below average. The lowest temperature recorded in Kuala Lumpur in 56 years of recordings is 17.8C.

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      Thursday's UK weather forecast — snow across England and Wales but elsewhere sunny with wintry showers

      In other parts of the country, it'll be typically sunny spells with some wintry showers.

      UK weather forecast for 6am on Thursday January 31

      UK weather forecast for 3pm on Thursday January 31

      UK outlook for Friday February 1 to Sunday February 3

      THERE will be more snow and rain in southern regions on Friday but will gradually ease.

      Saturday will be mostly sunny but cold and Sunday, more rain, sleet and snow arriving.

      UK outlook for Monday February 4 to Thursday February 28

      ON Monday, wintry conditions will clear but further sleet, rain and snow will return on the Tuesday.

      Temperatures are set to stay cold with frost and icy conditions likely overnight.

      After a cold start to the month, there may be a small period where temperatures return closer to normal but after this, there's a chance of the weather becoming even colder.

      From mid-month, cold conditions are set to dominate through to late February.

      It's likely to be a mixture of wintry showers

      UK surface pressure forecast for 12pm Thursday

      • Contains public sector information licensed under the Open Government Licence v1.0

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      Mexico earthquakes: Thousands of people homeless

      Hundreds are still living in temporary camps in Mexico 32 years after they lost their homes in a massive earthquake. The list of those looking for a home grew even longer when another big quake struck Mexico City in September.

        More than 32 years ago thousands of people lost their homes after a massive earthquake in Mexico City.

        Today, hundreds are still living in temporary camps and others have only recently been re-housed in permanent homes.

        In September last year, the list of those looking for a home grew even longer when another big quake struck Mexico City.

        Al Jazeera’s David Mercer reports from Mexico City.

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