Arctic heat wave; sea ice at record February low

It's an upside down weather pattern at the top of the world.

A rare February Arctic heat wave has boosted temperatures to as high as 20 to 30 degrees warmer than average in the north polar regions.

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NOAA GFS data via University of Maine

The rare Arctic warmth is already causing a decline in Arctic sea ice coverage, at a time of the year when ice cover is historically still increasing toward peak coverage in March. In an eye opening development, current Arctic sea ice coverage is at record lows for February and is tracking well below the previous record year of 2012.

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NOAA: National Snow and Ice Data Center

The unprecedented low Arctic sea ice cover has opened the eyes of many climate watchers around the planet.

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Forecast: Arctic warmth continues

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's Global Forecast System model forecasts continued warmth in the Arctic into early March.

Temperature anomalies March 1 are forecast to remain as much as 20 degrees Fahrenheit above average over parts of the Arctic Ocean.

Here's the depiction for 03Z GMT March 1 via University of Maine's Climate Reanalyzer.

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NOAA GFS data via University of Maine.

The persistent Arctic heat wave may push Arctic sea ice levels to even more unprecedented lows in the coming weeks. The bigger picture question? Will the trends continue into the Arctic summer and push overall sea ice levels to news record annual lows this year even lower than 2012?

Stay tuned.