Arctic warmth serves as backdrop to UN talks on curbing climate change

Nunavut’s Clyde River saw temperatures 6.7 C above normal in November

Inuit representatives are in Madrid at the COP25 climate talks to draw attention to the impact of climate change in the Arctic. From left: Qetun’aq Charles, Darryl Tedjuk, Carmen Kuptana, Crystal Martin-Lapenskie, Eriel Lugt, Dalee Sambo Dorough and Nathan Kuptana. (Photo courtesy of the Inuit Circumpolar Council-Canada)

By Jane George

While Inuit representatives attend the United Nations climate talks in Madrid this week and next to draw attention to Arctic climate change, they will have plenty of recent examples of unusually warm weather in the Canadian Arctic to draw upon.

Last month average temperatures from the Northwest Territories to Nunatsiavut were well above normal: in Clyde River, on the northern coast of Baffin Island, the temperature averaged 6.7 degrees Celsius above the norm.

A chief goal of the UN meeting is to find a way to keep the global average temperature from rising more than two degrees C above temperatures recorded at the start of the industrial era in the 1800s.

But a map of November’s temperature anomalies in the Canadian Arctic, prepared by Dalhousie University weather watcher Patrick Duplessis, shows more than two additional degrees of heat overall last month in many places, using a more recent period from 1981 to 2010 as the point of comparison.

This map by Patrick Duplessis shows the temperature anomalies across Canada, with many positive variations noted across the Canadian Arctic. (Image courtesy of Patrick Duplessis)

Some of temperature anomalies for November noted by Duplessis include the following:

+2.6 C for Gjoa Haven

+3.8 C for Resolute Bay

+3.8 C for Kugluktuk

+4 C for Iqaluit

+5.7 C for Inuvik

+6.7 C for Clyde River

“For the most part, it wasn’t a month characterized by big temperatures spikes, but rather constantly warm temperatures and no extreme-cold days,” Duplessis said.

The notable warmth in November was part of a warmer-than-average autumn, he said.

From late September into October, several high temperature records tumbled at the Canadian Forces Station at Alert, on Nunavut’s Ellesmere Island, located some 2,000 kilometres north of Iqaluit.

And Nunavik also experienced some warm days. On Oct. 12, Kuujjuaraapik was the “hot spot” in Canada, with a temperature of 20.6 C, breaking the previous high temperature record for that date of 19.9 C in 2003.

This map by Patrick Duplessis of Dalhousie University shows the overall warmth across the Canadian Arctic from Sept. 1 to Nov. 30. (Image courtesy of Patrick Duplessis)

Overall, across the Canadian Arctic, the three-month period from Sept. 1 to Nov. 30 shows temperature anomalies of:

+1.3 C for Kuujjuaq

+1.6 C for Rankin Inlet

+2.4 C for Gjoa Haven

+2.3 C for Kugluktuk

+2.8 C for Resolute Bay

+3 C for Iqaluit

+3.2 C for Alert

+4.4 C for Inuvik

+4.6 C for Clyde River

For the planet, 2019 concludes a decade of exceptional global heat, retreating ice and record sea levels, the World Meteorological Organization said today in its annual report on the Earth’s climate.

Average temperatures for the 10-year period from 2010 to 2019 are set to be the highest on record, the WMO said, with 2019 on course to being the  second- or third-warmest year on record.

Along with those higher-than-average overall temperatures during this autumn, there was also less Arctic ice formation.

The average November Arctic sea ice extent was the second lowest on record, at 1,370,000 square kilometres below the 1981 to 2010 average, the US National Snow and Ice Data Center said.


The UN’s current meeting, called COP25, or the 25th conference of the parties, will see the world’s nations try to build on previous commitments to reduce carbon emissions.

In his Dec. 2 opening remarks to COP25, Secretary-General António Guterres said “to address the climate emergency, we need a rapid and deep change in how we do business, how we generate power, how we build cities, how we move and how we feed the world. If we don’t urgently change our way of life, we jeopardize life itself.”

But no matter what decisions are taken in Madrid, a UN report released earlier this year said many changes for the Arctic are already “locked-in.”

Even if the world manages to cut climate-warming greenhouse gas emissions in line with the Paris targets, winter temperatures in the Arctic are expected to rise three to five degrees C by 2050 and five to nine degrees C by 2080.

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(3) Comments:

  1. Posted by Northern Guy on

    Looks like the professional meeting goers from the ICC are at it again. Must be a nice gig travelling the world telling people the obvious, that the Arctic is warming. Do any of these good people actually still live in the Arctic?

    • Posted by AL GORE on

      I want to become globe trotting enviromentalist

  2. Posted by Jim MacDonald on

    Global Warming birth… The public must panic because the Arctic is melting, polar bears drowning and sea levels rising was in 1988. Early 2000s name changed to Climate Change, and doubled down on everything climate change fear. Back in 1922, Washington Post headline, “Arctic Ocean Getting Warm: Seals Vanish and icebergs melt”. Today as Greta fades away, after setting the over the top anxiety stage for kids – It’s all over in 12 years! A new more negative Climate Change name change may emerge before end-of-year. Called… GLOBAL MELTDOWN? Is it because of the all political Climate Change emergency rush for total people control? The everything carbon taxed agenda may collapse if people keep awakening to not warming and cooling temperatures around the globe? Even NASA is predicting next solar cycle will be lowest in 200 years, at Dalton Minimum levels.

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