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Weather buoy near North Pole hits melting point

(FILES) This handout file photo taken on August 22, 2015 and provided by the European Geosciences Union on September 13, 2016 shows a polar bear testing the strength of thin sea ice in the Arctic. The first gathering of the UN's climate forum since last year's adoption of the Paris Agreement to curtail global warming, is tasked with drafting a roadmap for its execution. / AFP PHOTO / European Geosciences Union / Mario HOPPMANN / RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE - MANDATORY CREDIT "AFP PHOTO / MARIO HOPPMANN / EUROPEAN GEOSCIENCES UNION"- NO MARKETING NO ADVERTISING CAMPAIGNS - DISTRIBUTED AS A SERVICE TO CLIENTSMARIO HOPPMANN/AFP/Getty Images

MARIO HOPPMANN/European Geosciences Union via AFP/Getty Images/file 2015

A polar bear tested the strength of thin sea ice last year. A spike in temperatures has brought the North Pole ot the melting point of 32 degrees Thursday.

WASHINGTON — An unusual spike in temperatures, propelled by a massive storm packing warm air, brought the North Pole to the melting point of 32 degrees Thursday.

Data from a weather buoy show that air temperatures have risen more than 40 degrees in the last two days after they had hovered near minus-11 degrees, which is still above average.

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The entire Arctic north has witnessed a sharp temperature spike of nearly 30 degrees.

Zachary Labe, a doctoral student researching Arctic climate and weather at the University of California Irvine, said the huge flux of warmth into the region may have contributed to the loss of sea ice at a time when the region is usually gaining ice.

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Near the Franz Joseph Islands east of Svalbard, satellite imagery shows a large mass of ice vanishing over the last day. ‘‘This is pretty dramatic,’’ he tweeted.

Data from the National Snow and Ice Data Center indicate the Arctic lost about 57,000 square miles of ice in the past day, which is roughly the size of Michigan. Labe cautioned, however, the ice loss data are preliminary and require quality control.

In Longyearbyen, Norway, which is on the island of Svalbard in the Nordic Seas, the high reached 36 degrees Thursday, according to Weather Underground, beating the old daily record of 33 degrees.

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While it is common for storms to transport large quantities of heat into the high Arctic, the intensity of warmth — more than 40 degrees above normal — has caught the attention of scientists.

This is the second time in the last six weeks such a steep rise in temperatures has occurred. In mid-November, temperatures over the high Arctic averaged about 30-35 degrees above normal.

An analysis from Climate Central, a nonprofit science organization, found that a warm event of comparable intensity to what occurred in November ‘‘would have been extremely unlikely in a climate of a century ago’’ before heat-trapping gases in the atmosphere had grown to current levels.

‘‘If nothing is done to slow climate change, by the time global warming reaches 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 Fahrenheit), events like this winter would become common at the North Pole, happening every few years,’’ Climate Central concluded.

While the Arctic witnesses freak temperature rises, the cold air normally positioned there has sloshed southward into Siberia.

Temperatures there have crashed to about 60 degrees below normal, flirting with minus-60.

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