People in the inland of southern Norway woke up to temperatures down to minus 35 degrees Celsius Tuesday morning and the forecast promises to keep cold at least another week. Coastal towns in Finnmark in the other end, have had days with 1-3 degrees above zero. Even Longyearbyen, on Norway’s Svalbard archipelago at 76 degrees north had some few days above zero last week.
The waters east of Svalbard all the way to north of Russia’s Novaya Zemlya are still ice free. In this part of the Arctic, the extent of sea ice stays well below average. Newly posted data from the National Snow and Ice Data Centre shows that the Barents-and Kara Seas have the second-lowest sea ice extent in the satellite record, dating back to 1979.
For December, the total sea ice extent in the Arctic was 4,71 million square miles, almost half-a-million square miles below the 1979 to 2000 average. The slow growth of sea ice in the Barents- and Kara Seas in December is most likely due to higher air temperatures, 3 to 5 degrees Celsius higher than normal.