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In this Saturday, July 22, 2017 photo, Canadian Coast Guard Capt. Victor Gronmyr looks out over the ice covering the Victoria Strait as the Finnish icebreaker MSV Nordica traverses the Northwest Passage through the Canadian Arctic Archipelago.
David Goldman/AP

The UK Was Colder Than the Arctic, Thanks to Climate Change

Temperatures in the UK and across Europe have plummeted this week, while those in the Arctic are soaring. It means that temperatures in some parts of the Arctic are actually warmer than parts of the UK. 

Known as the “Beast from the East,” winds are bringing sub-freezing temperatures and snow from Russia and Scandinavia to the UK, France, and Germany — which is why your commute this morning was probably a nightmare. 

The UK is seeing one of the coldest spells of weather in recent years, with temperatures dropping as low as -8C, according to the Independent. 

Take action: Stand Up for the Arctic

Meanwhile, temperatures in the Arctic are over 30C higher than averages for the time of year, according to experts — meaning that, in some areas, temperatures could even get over 0C for the first time since records began.

“It is absolutely astonishing how much warmer the Arctic is right now relative to even the previous record warmest February,” said UCLA climate scientist Daniel Swain. 

“I know there have been a lot of weather/climate superlatives tossed around lately, but this truly is ‘record shattering’. Wow,” he added. 

Environmental scientist Peter Gleick added: “Just how hot is the Arctic now? Hotter than ever measured in the winter. Human-caused climate change is beginning to radically transform our planet.” 

Read more: 3,000 Britons Are Dying Every Year Because They Can't Afford Heating

And the two extreme weather conditions are linked.

The circulation of air at the upper levels of the atmosphere known as the “polar vortex” normally keeps all the cold air in the most northern regions of the world, according to Mashable. 

But, this year, the polar vortex has split, instead creating two twin vortexes of extremely cold air — one which is drifting southwest over western Canada and the Pacific Northwest, while the other is heading over Europe. 

All the cold air is leaving the Arctic — causing temperatures there to rise — and instead causing freezing conditions in Canada and Europe.

Read more: Scientists Warn That the Arctic Might Not Be the Arctic for Very Long

The split was caused by what’s known as a “sudden stratospheric warming event” in the first half of February — which refers to a swift jump in temperatures in the stratosphere (between 10-50km above the north pole) of up to about 50C in just a couple of days, according to the Met Office. 

The Danish Meteorological Institute recorded that Cape Morris Jesup in Greenland, the most northern weather station in the world, had tipped over freezing.

That’s despite the winter in the Arctic Circle meaning that the sun isn’t expected to rise again until March. But, because of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, the Arctic is warming at more than twice the rate of the rest of the world, causing the region’s ice to shrink 7.4% every decade since 1979, an average decrease of 28,000 square miles every year.

Read more: It Snowed in the Sahara — and the Photos Are Insane

As temperatures rise, the Arctic sea ice is at record low levels. It’s exposing communities living on the Alaskan coasts to storm surge flooding from fierce winter storms, according to Mashable.

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