As winter sets in, the Arctic Ocean freezes up. But because waters near the continental land masses warm up so much during the melting season (see for instance this image from August 11th 2012), they have to give off a lot of heat before they're cold enough to freeze. The waters warm up so much, of course, because of the rapid retreat of Arctic sea ice during the warming season.
This warm air from Arctic waters has temperatures shooting up on the adjoining shores (see for instance air temps during the first half of this month on Vize Island in the Kara Sea), sometimes up to 10-20 ºC more than the long-term average, and also causes more rain and snow to fall. This is a regular feature now, a sure sign that the Arctic climate is changing as we speak. And for a large part because of Anthropogenic Global Warming.
Andrew Freedman from the Climate Central blog just published an article describing the situation on the Alaskan shore of the Beaufort Sea that was anomalously warm for a large part of the melting season:
As Sea Ice Declines, Winter Shifts in Northern Alaska
The consequences of the record loss of Arctic sea ice this past summer are becoming clear to the 4,000 or so residents of Barrow, Alaska, who have seen a much milder and snowier-than-average start to their typically long and bitterly cold winter season.
As is typical for this time of year, much of Alaska has already been plunged into winter conditions, with temperatures below 0°F in some locations. Yet Barrow, which from its perch on Alaska’s North Slope is the country’s northernmost town, has had a downright balmy start to the Alaskan winter. (Well, balmy for Barrow, at least.)
According to the National Weather Service, Barrow has seen “almost continuous above-normal temperatures” since September “due to a lack of sea ice” formation until last week. Along with the above-average temperatures has come above-average snowfall. Snowfall since July 1 has been more than a foot above average, the Weather Service said, with 31.4 inches of snow having fallen through Nov. 17.
Read the rest of the article here.