Arctic Temperatures Are Rising So Fast Computers Don’t Believe They’re Real

320 miles north of the Arctic Circle, a weather station in America’s northernmost city of Utqiaġvik (formerly Barrow), Alaska, has been quietly collecting temperature data since the 1920s.

Early this month, while preparing a report on U.S. climate, experts at the National Centers for Environmental Information (NCEI) noticed something odd: They were missing data from Utqiaġvik for all of 2017, and some of 2016.

It turns out the temperatures recorded at Utqiaġvik over that time were warmer than had ever been seen before. So much so, in fact, that an automated computer system set up to police data and remove irregularities had flagged it as unreal and excluded it from the report.

Since 1979, the first year sea ice began being monitored by satellite, Utqiaġvik’s average temperatures from January through September have climbed 1.9 degrees Fahrenheit ― a change nearly twice as large as that seen in the lower 48 states. And in October, November and December, the temperatures have positively skyrocketed, with differences of 7.8, 6.9 and 4.7 degrees Fahrenheit respectively.

Those warmer temperatures mean the amount of Arctic sea ice in the area has drastically decreased, leading to yet more warming. And as that vicious cycle of warmer temperatures to less ice, to even warmer temperatures and even less ice, has repeated, the Utqiaġvik weather station did what it was supposed to do: It sent up a huge red flag that something must be broken.

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