Arctic summer in Arctic wintertime

January 26, 2006

It may still be January, but the Arctic region is reportedly experiencing record, summerlike temperatures.

Norway's Meteorological Institute said the ice line at Svalbard, a northern Norwegian territory, is extremely far north for the season, Aftenposten reported Thursday. The waters around Svalbard are nearly free of ice and there are large areas of open sea up to near 84 degrees north.

Meteorologists told the newspaper the much higher than normal temperatures were caused by the usual winter winds from the east or northeast being replaced by winds from the south or southwest -- a type of flow more usually seen during the summer. As the sea becomes freer of ice, air temperatures become warmer.

The average temperature on Svalbard so far this month has been 29 degrees Fahrenheit, which is about 24 degrees higher than normal, Aftenposten reported.

Meteorologists said a record high 49 degrees Fahrenheit was recorded Wednesday evening on the Arctic island of Jan Mayen.

Copyright 2006 by United Press International

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