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A year of weird, warm weather across eastern Arctic

Weather Observations: The Arctic
Iqaluit residents wearing light spring clothing strolled comfortably around town on Feb. 26, impeded only by huge pools of melt water, as temperatures reached all-time highs for that date. (FILE PHOTO)

Jan 05, 2007
2006 was a year of weird, warm weather across the eastern Arctic - On Feb. 26, temperatures reached 6.8 C in Pangnirtung and 4.2 C in Iqaluit, breaking a 60-YEAR MONTHLY RECORD for the capital. And it rained. Since 1946, In rain has fallen in February on only three other occasions in south Baffin. Higher than normal temperatures continued into October. In Iqaluit, temperatures reached 6.8 C on Oct. 15, and 6.9 C on Oct. 16, which also BROKE RECORDS that day. On Oct. 17, Grise Fiord’s high reached 6 C, which is a full 20 C above the average high for that date. Resolute Bay hit .8 C. This broke a RECORD of -1.4 C set in 2002 for that date, and set a NEW EXTREME MAXIMUM for the month. And temperatures hit NEW HIGHS in Europe’s circumpolar region. April weather readings for Norway’s High Arctic Svalbard Islands produced new RECORDS. A temperature of 7.5 C in Longyearbyen in April was the highest temperature RECORDED on Svalbard since measurements began in 1912. Russia, Norway and Finland also experienced above-average summer and autumn temperatures. Winter brought little snow to the more southern regions of northern Europe. “The top of the world is melting right in front of my very eyes. You can call it whatever makes you feel comfortable, climate change, global warming, a cyclical trend, green nonsense, solar flare, wobbly axis – whichever side of the fence you sit on, there is no denying something is amiss, when for the last two days the temperature here [at the Top of the World Expedition] has only got down to -6 C.” Climate change and a resulting lack of food may have driven polar bears to eat each other. Meanwhile, an Arctic seal was found Sept. 15 on a beach in southern North Carolina. Seals were also seen as far south as Florida and the Caribbean, and at least 12 seals were spotted during the summer in Spain. Warmer waters may help explain why seals are travelling far from home. New animals were seen in Nunavik. In Kuujjuaraapik several skunks were lurking around town. Moose, which favour muddy, treed areas with plenty of plants to eat, roamed around Kuujjuaraapik. And an American sports hunter bagged a “polargrizz” – a rare grizzly-polar bear hybrid – in the Northwest Territories. satellites circling the polar regions picked up an increasing amount of vegetation in higher latitudes during the summer. Strawberries grew in Greenland, where climate change has substantially lengthened the growing season. It was possible to raise cattle in Greenland for the first time in hundreds of years. Nunavik’s airport access roads and runways buckled and split as permafrost melted. Temperature differences between the High Arctic tundra and the upper atmosphere produced mirages, distorting the shape of the sun, which shows the atmosphere warmed significantly

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