Record temperatures in April are leading to an earlier than usual Arctic thaw
Arctic temperatures are spiking, kickstarting an early ice melt season that will further accelerate the ice melt rate. The melt is due to a high-pressure system hovering over the Arctic as warm air from Russia is coming in while cold air is pushed south toward North America and Scandinavia. This has led to an unseasonably cold spring for both the U.S. and Norway. This has also resulted in a sharp rise in temperatures in May, when maximum temperatures rose above the melting point, accelerating the ice melt rate, which typically doesn’t start until June. Dark meltwater patches, which reflect less sunlight than white ice, speed up the warming process and cause the ice to melt faster.
The Arctic is among the areas of the world that have warmed the fastest since 1979. This year, the average area of existing sea ice is the third lowest it has been in the last four decades, and the total volume of sea ice is the fifth lowest it has been during the same time period.