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SOURCE: Washington Post

DATE: May 16, 2016

AUTHOR: Chris Mooney

SNIP: …Arctic amplification has long been understood — and, confirming the theory, the Arctic has already been warming much faster than the more temperate latitudes. Even in this context, though, scientists have been noting that there seems to be something especially stark about what’s happening atop the world this year, which has seen overall temperatures soar to new highs.

“We’re in record breaking territory no matter how you look at it,” says Jennifer Francis, an Arctic specialist at Rutgers University who has published widely on how Arctic changes affect weather in the mid-latitudes. “The ice is really low, the temperatures are really high, the fire seasons have started earlier,” she says.

It’s an “uncharted territory situation that we’re finding ourselves in,” Francis says.

Indeed, NASA and other keepers of planetary temperatures have documented staggering warmth in the region this year — not just 1 or 2 degrees Celsius above average, but more than 4 degrees above average across much of the Arctic during the first quarter of this year.