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SOURCE: Washington Post

DATE: December 28, 2016

AUTHOR: Chris Mooney

SNIP: The Arctic continues to amaze. Hit by a second bout of extremely warm winter temperatures in recent days, the seasonal growth of floating sea ice has flattened out, just as it did when hit by similarly dramatic heat in November.

The area of the Arctic Ocean covered by sea ice is currently far smaller than it was in 2012 at this time of year. And while 2012 holds the all-time record for lowest ice extent in September, 2016 has been beating it since mid-October.

The analysis was conducted by a World Weather Attribution, a consortium of researchers who are perfecting the study of how a changing climate affects local weather conditions, or conditions in a specific place. It came out last week, but the researchers say that in light of another burst of Arctic warmth since, the analysis holds up. If anything, the ensuing temperatures were slightly hotter than they’d expected.

As for the event itself, Diffenbaugh pointed out that the Arctic is responding extremely rapidly to climate change — more rapidly even than scientists had predicted. “One interesting thing in looking at the history of the peer reviewed literature over the last decade and a half is that the climate models have, as a whole, have really been less sensitive, in the Arctic, than what’s happened in the real world,” he said.