When Punxsutawney Phil confirmed we’d be looking at an extra long winter, who knew the same may not have been true at — of all places — the North Pole.
The North Pole is hardly known for being a sunny, beach oasis, but scientists were shocked to find it warmer than it’d even been recently. According to the Chicago Tribune, temperatures at the icy locale rose as high as 35 degrees Fahrenheit with a climate scientist confirming that “it was very close to freezing.”
This raise reportedly put temps at more than 50 degrees above normal, which has scientists shocked especially in the middle of winter.
According to Robert Graham, from the Norwegian Polar Institute to the Chicago Tribune, this phenomenon used to be a rarity. “It happened in four years between 1980-2010, but has now occurred in four out of the last five winters,” he said.
A decline in the amount of sea ice is linked to the weird winter weather.
“As the sea ice is melting and thinning, it is becoming more vulnerable to these winter storms,” Graham explained. “The thinner ice drifts more quickly and can break up into smaller pieces. The strong winds from the south can push the ice further north into the Central Arctic, exposing the open water and releasing heat to the atmosphere from the ocean.”
With this warm arctic weather, some parts of Europe have reported even cooler temperatures, according to Reuters.
Romans recently awoke to a snow-filled Monday — enough to slow down public transportation.
With Rome’s train, plane and bus systems at a halt due to the rare snow fall, schools also closed. Parks that usually stay green through winter turned white, giving eager Romans a rare opportunity to go sledding, snow-shoeing or skiing. Even the Circo Massimo became a hotspot for snowball fights, while Piazza Navona, with its famed Bernini fountains, turned into a snow-dusted winter wonderland.
While these changes can be interesting, Erik Solheim, head of the U.N. Environment, warns that rare weather patterns aren’t exactly a good thing.
“What we once considered to be anomalies are becoming the new normal,” he said to Reuters. “Our climate is changing right in front of our eyes, and we’ve only got a short amount of time to stop this from getting significantly worse.”