Northernmost settlement in the world reaches record highs, warmer than British Columbia
The northernmost settlement in the world, Alert, Nunavut, in Canada is a high-security station that monitors electronic signals and communications. The military base is known for a giant display of signs, showing the names of cities and the vast distances in thousands of kilometers to travel there from the remote location. It’s over 4000 miles to British Columbia, considered one of the warmest spots in Canada.
But on Sunday, July 14 and Monday, July 15, Alert, just 508 miles from the North Pole, was over 20 C or 68 F around noon. In comparison, British Columbia wasn’t quite as warm as this ice-shrouded location.
“We’ve never recorded a temperature this warm this far North on planet Earth,” remarked a meteorologist at the Weather Network.
#Alert, Nunavut, Canada—at latitude 82.5°N, the northernmost permanently inhabited spot on Earth—hit 69°F today (20.5°C) for the first time on record.
Needless to say, this one can't be pinned on an urban heat island. https://t.co/1ZhnoYPlH5
— Bob Henson (@bhensonweather) July 14, 2019
The personnel at the base generally wears parkas, so this weather must have been shocking.
“A Canadian Forces spokesperson said nobody in Alert was available to say if soldiers had swapped parkas for flip-flops,” reported the Canadian Press.
The temperature high didn’t just surpass records; it blew them out of the water. According to CBC News, Alert has an average high of 7 C or 44.6 F for July.
David Phillips, Environment Canada’s chief climatologist, remarked on the wild temperature swing. He said this record would be comparable to Toronto reaching a daytime high of 42 C or 107.6 F.
“It’s really quite spectacular. This is unprecedented. It’s nothing that you would have ever seen,” said Phillips.
— CBC North (@CBCNorth) July 15, 2019
The record-breaking high is part of a trend, as the Arctic is experiencing an unprecedented heatwave.
“That’s what we’re seeing more often,” Phillips said. “It’s not just half a degree or a 10th of a millimetre. It’s like hitting a ball out of the ballpark. It is so different than what the previous record was.”
Current weather models for the summer of 2019 suggest this will be the new insane normal.
“Our models for the rest of the summer are saying, ‘Get used to it,'” said Phillips.
“It’s nothing that you would have ever seen": Alert, Nunavut hit temperatures higher than Victoria, B.C. on Sunday and Monday. https://t.co/KFcnLjZu1y
— Global BC (@GlobalBC) July 16, 2019
The capital of the Canadian territory of Nunavut is called Iqaluit, over a thousand miles away to the south. On July 9, the temperature reached a record high for the day of 23.5 C or 74.3 F.
Global News chief meteorologist, Anthony Farnell, said the temperature in Nunavut has reached above 19 C several times in the last decade. However, this is the first time with temperatures above 20 on back to back days.
Scientists believe the drastic changes in temperature may be happening as sea ice is melting. Another factor is the jet stream high in the atmosphere. The flow of air is becoming slower and unstable in recent years, looping farther north and south than it usually does.
“It’s almost as if you’re seeing these extremes more often because of the jet stream that has a different look and a different pattern,” Phillips said. “That’s what we saw when we had those 20-degree temperatures in Iqaluit.”
The climatologist suggests that climate change must be factored in.
“With temperatures you’ve never seen before, you can’t dismiss it as not having a climate change component.”
According to Global News, a high-pressure system over northern Greenland is helping to funnel warm air from the United States and southern Canada.
More in the video from the Weather Network below:
On July 14 Alert, Nunavut shattered their previous record high temperature when they reached 21°C. Meteorologist @50ShadesofVan explains why.
— The Weather Network (@weathernetwork) July 16, 2019
July has also been extremely hot in Alaska. See more about the record-breaking heatwave in Anchorage below:
Featured image: Screenshot via YouTube