Current weather models show that temperatures in the Arctic will climb to just under 32 degrees Fahrenheit later this week, according to a recent study published on Climatecentral.org.
This is almost 40 to 50 degrees higher than normal Arctic temperatures for this time of year. In fact, recent research shows that global climate change is causing unseasonable warmth at the North Pole to become more and more common each year.
These new results — discovered by an international team of researchers — come after a record-breaking warm year and an extremely hot November that dropped ice coverage throughout the Arctic. If the pattern continues at its current pace, 2016 will be the second year in a row to end with a heat spike.
In addition, a second study published in Nature earlier this year showed that Arctic temperature spikes have occurred once or twice every decade since the 1950’s. The fact that they have now occurred two years in a row could be cause for concern, The Christian Science Monitor reports.
While these rising temperatures could be caused by climate change, researchers say there is not enough evidence yet to make that claim.
“I don’t think anyone can for sure say,” said Zachary Labe, a doctoral student researching the Arctic at the University of California-Irvine, who was not involved in the research, according to The Washington Post. “The variability in the Arctic is tremendous.”
Though global warming has affected areas all across the world, climate change has hit the Arctic particularly hard. Temperatures in the region are rising twice as fast as the rest of the globe, which in turn is causing extreme environmental shifts.
For example, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) reports that 19,000 square miles of ice disappeared over a five-day period in November. This is the second largest loss of ice on record and it came during a time when sea ice normally grows.
There is also a chance that low ice coverage — which could have created a channel for warmer air to flow north — may be a reason for the new temperature spikes.
“We’re going to be watching the summer of 2017 very closely,” said Jeremy Mathis, director of the NOAA Arctic Research Program, who was not involved in the research, according to The New York Times.