This extreme difference from normal -- could it occur in climates that are warmer, making some places unlivable?

Additionally, is there a reason why extremely cold places should expect to have relatively warmer anomalies than climates that are warmer on average?

Source: http://www.sciencealert.com/the-north-pole-is-36-degrees-hotter-than-it-should-be-right-now


2 Answers 2


The specific 36 F temperature anomaly in the linked article points to a single day event. I am aware that it is associated with unusually high temperatures in general this fall/winter, but a single day event is not that unusual. For example, the average January temperature in Dallas is 46 F, and the average monthly high is 76 F. That means every year (on average) sees a temperature that is 30 F above normal. The record high in January is 88 F, meaning that at least once, the temperatures in Dallas were 42 F above normal. That was all the way back in 1969.

While this doesn't look great for the polar bears, and is further confirmation that AGW is coming along nicely, I would caution against getting too upset about it in the short term. We aren't out of time yet. After all, the world didn't end after that record January heat in 1969.

  • $\begingroup$ Look at the temperature curve presented in the source. That's not a single day event. It's already going on for >10 days $\endgroup$ Commented Nov 20, 2016 at 15:19
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    $\begingroup$ @AtmosphericPrisonEscape I understand that, and my point is that if you into the records for Dallas or probably anywhere else in the winter, you can find a week of exceptional temperatures. I'm not arguing that this isn't a sign of things to come with AGW, but I am arguing that reports of the earth's demise are greatly exaggerated. $\endgroup$
    – kingledion
    Commented Nov 20, 2016 at 18:56
  • $\begingroup$ @kingledion: I don't know. AFAIK polar bears are screwed. Can they survive even a single winter without ice? $\endgroup$
    – Jeff
    Commented Nov 20, 2016 at 19:47
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    $\begingroup$ @kingledion: Well, as Gordon Stanger points out, this is one of the key predictions for AGW and well understood by physics, I'm not aware of similar predictions for Dallas. $\endgroup$ Commented Nov 20, 2016 at 20:42
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    $\begingroup$ Throughout news reporting of all aspects of meteorology, there's unfortunately a disappointingly regular trend of misleading word choices that intentionally hype/misrepresent weather events. Almost daily, and suggests most other story topics aren't safe either. A real pity, but you must be very methodical, skeptical, and proactive in seeking the truth on any information these days. Which is terrible when trying to subsequently convince someone of something important. Keep seeking the truth, don't be afraid to be shown you're wrong, and treat the truth as precious! $\endgroup$ Commented Nov 23, 2016 at 6:03

I don't know where you get the 36 degrees from - it seems rather extreme. Do you mean 36 deg F = 20 deg C? Even 20 is not realistic, except perhaps for a very short period anomaly. In fact, the average temperature increase in the north pole area is little more than 4 degrees C. see https://nsidc.org/cryosphere/arctic-meteorology/climate_change.html


In general, the Earth's atmospheric heat distribution is to shunt heat polewards, and it is universally recognized that the lion's share of the temperature rise from climate change will occur in polar areas (for several reasons).

As to some places becoming unlivable, yes indeed, parts of the tropics and some places further north, are already heading towards that state. One thinks of North India where heat waves are now reaching the mid to high 40s (centigrade), which is the sort of temperature where people who can't afford air conditioning drop dead from heat exhaustion. This is likely to get worse. Also, be aware that there are many +/- anomalies, including oceanic islands (high humidity) and coastal sub-Saharan Africa, where an increase of about 1.5 deg C above historic means are already making life difficult for some. In the Arctic dramatic changes in lifestyle are also occurring, and will continue to do so at an accelerating rate. The 2 deg C limiting temperature rise, beloved of politicians (and which is already looking unattainable), is just a global average, within which the Arctic temperature rise could easily exceed 10 deg C.

  • $\begingroup$ The claim can be seen in this Science Alert article: sciencealert.com/… $\endgroup$
    – user7009
    Commented Nov 20, 2016 at 9:24
  • $\begingroup$ @Nullarbor: Thanks, I should have provided this link and will edit post. I am so upset by this I am not thinking straight. $\endgroup$
    – Jeff
    Commented Nov 20, 2016 at 9:31
  • $\begingroup$ @Gordon Stanger: So you seen to be saying that this extreme event happening in the arctic is to be expected. But 36 degrees is so huge that it seems like the heat waves in India could be getting more extreme. I know that the thawing of permafrost will contribute to warming probably not in a very predictable way. Not sure what we should do but it seems like we are out of time. $\endgroup$
    – Jeff
    Commented Nov 20, 2016 at 9:43
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    $\begingroup$ Jeff, why so upset? A short term 20 deg C anomaly can occur in many places in the world. It is no big deal What matters is the long term trend. $\endgroup$ Commented Nov 21, 2016 at 0:25
  • $\begingroup$ Well, I think it could be argued that we are seeing a very unusual winter in the arctic. Perhaps unprecedented since I am not sure the polar bear could survive single iceless winter. Maybe they can but we might see their extinction in the wild and that would mean this had never happened before. $\endgroup$
    – Jeff
    Commented Nov 27, 2016 at 10:37

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