Today's temperatures at the North Pole are scaring scientists around the world.

The North Pole is famous for many things. 24-hour darkness, polar bears, and of course, being the home of Santa Claus.

One thing it's definitely not known for, though, is balmy, casual, "Hey, how cold is it? Do you think I need a light jacket?" type temperatures.

The north pole is freezing. It's one of the coldest places on Earth. In fact, it's sometimes colder than Mars. Mars!


The frozen ice-ball where Matt Damon lives. Photo by NASA/Getty Images.

But according to scientists, a storm the likes of which few have ever seen is about to raise north pole temperatures to as high as 40 degrees Fahrenheit.

That's about 50 degrees warmer than usual and is, according to meteorologist Eric Holthaus, "absolutely terrifying."

It's always comforting when a scientist uses the words "absolutely terrifying."

The biggest reason behind that terror? Water freezes at 32 degrees Fahrenheit. But if it gets warmer than that, ice melts. If the North Pole (which is covered in sea ice) begins to melt, less sunlight can be reflected off the ice. Thus, arctic temperatures rise even faster in a vicious cycle.

Also, if the continental ice sheets in that region start to melt, sea levels everywhere could quickly rise to dangerous levels.

Rising sea levels have already started to affect areas like Robbins, Maryland. Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images.

The storm is on its way to becoming one of the strongest in the North Atlantic's history.

It's a "meteorological marvel" that has so far ripped through Texas in the form of brutal tornados, dumped record amounts of rain onto the Midwest, and is now moving on with the intention of flooding an already soaked U.K. ... and bringing hoodie weather to one of the coldest places on the planet.

It rained so much in London this year that everyone was required to buy cool umbrellas. Photo by Ben Pruchnie/Getty Images.

Hurricane-force winds and alarmingly low barometric pressure are pushing it into the category of "bombogenesis..." a term used to describe "meteorological bombs" that often devastate large areas.

One piece of good news, though: The 230-mile-per-hour jet stream that the storm caused in the North Atlantic actually shortened flights from New York to London to a little over five hours. (It usually takes six or seven.)

"This, more than any other extreme weather event in a remarkable year for the climate, feels like something new," writes climate blogger Robert Scribbler.

And it has been a remarkable year for the climate. The east coast just had its warmest Christmas ever. Manhattan was over 70 degrees at noontime, and in Queens, people were surfing. Yeah. Surfing.

Surfers flocked to Rockaway Beach this Christmas because the waves were "totally tubular" or whatever they say. Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images.

So what in the lukewarm world is going on here?

Well, as you can probably imagine, climate change is playing a big part.

According to many climate scientists, including Michael E. Mann of the Penn State Earth System Science Center, regular El Nino ocean temperature fluctuations are being made worse by human-caused climate change.

All of which is causing worse storms than usual.

Robert Scribbler writes that the strong winds and tropical air associated with the storm system "reeks of human-forced warming of the Earth's climate."

And although some remain skeptical of the correlation in this case, it's hard to imagine a situation where record-breaking-ly warm air being hurled at the North Pole is a good thing.

The only positive outcome I can imagine is that Santa, who obviously spends his downtime hang gliding and reading mystery novels in Bermuda, might not have to go anywhere else this year. He could probably just have a barbecue in his backyard with all his reindeer.

True

When Sue Hoppin was in college, she met the man she was going to marry. "I was attending the University of Denver, and he was at the Air Force Academy," she says. "My dad had also attended the University of Denver and warned me not to date those flyboys from the Springs."

"He didn't say anything about marrying one of them," she says. And so began her life as a military spouse.

The life brings some real advantages, like opportunities to live abroad — her family got to live all around the US, Japan, and Germany — but it also comes with some downsides, like having to put your spouse's career over your own goals.

"Though we choose to marry someone in the military, we had career goals before we got married, and those didn't just disappear."

Career aspirations become more difficult to achieve, and progress comes with lots of starts and stops. After experiencing these unique challenges firsthand, Sue founded an organization to help other military spouses in similar situations.

Sue had gotten a degree in international relations because she wanted to pursue a career in diplomacy, but for fourteen years she wasn't able to make any headway — not until they moved back to the DC area. "Eighteen months later, many rejections later, it became apparent that this was going to be more challenging than I could ever imagine," she says.

Eighteen months is halfway through a typical assignment, and by then, most spouses are looking for their next assignment. "If I couldn't find a job in my own 'hometown' with multiple degrees and a great network, this didn't bode well for other military spouses," she says.

She's not wrong. Military spouses spend most of their lives moving with their partners, which means they're often far from family and other support networks. When they do find a job, they often make less than their civilian counterparts — and they're more likely to experience underemployment or unemployment. In fact, on some deployments, spouses are not even allowed to work.

Before the pandemic, military spouse unemployment was 22%. Since the pandemic, it's expected to rise to 35%.

Sue eventually found a job working at a military-focused nonprofit, and it helped her get the experience she needed to create her own dedicated military spouse program. She wrote a book and started saving up enough money to start the National Military Spouse Network (NMSN), which she founded in 2010 as the first organization of its kind.

"I founded the NMSN to help professional military spouses develop flexible careers they could perform from any location."

"Over the years, the program has expanded to include a free digital magazine, professional development events, drafting annual White Papers and organizing national and local advocacy to address the issues of most concern to the professional military spouse community," she says.

Not only was NMSN's mission important to Sue on a personal level she also saw it as part of something bigger than herself.

"Gone are the days when families can thrive on one salary. Like everyone else, most military families rely on two salaries to make ends meet. If a military spouse wants or needs to work, they should be able to," she says.

"When less than one percent of our population serves in the military," she continues, "we need to be able to not only recruit the best and the brightest but also retain them."

"We lose out as a nation when service members leave the force because their spouse is unable to find employment. We see it as a national security issue."

"The NMSN team has worked tirelessly to jumpstart the discussion and keep the challenges affecting military spouses top of mind. We have elevated the conversation to Congress and the White House," she continues. "I'm so proud of the fact that corporations, the government, and the general public are increasingly interested in the issues affecting military spouses and recognizing the employment roadblocks they unfairly have faced."

"We have collectively made other people care, and in doing so, we elevated the issues of military spouse unemployment to a national and global level," she adds. "In the process, we've also empowered military spouses to advocate for themselves and our community so that military spouse employment issues can continue to remain at the forefront."

Not only has NMSN become a sought-after leader in the military spouse employment space, but Sue has also seen the career she dreamed of materializing for herself. She was recently invited to participate in the public re-launch of Joining Forces, a White House initiative supporting military and veteran families, with First Lady Dr. Jill Biden.

She has also had two of her recommendations for practical solutions introduced into legislation just this year. She was the first in the Air Force community to show leadership the power of social media to reach both their airmen and their military families.

That is why Sue is one of Tory Burch's "Empowered Women" this year. The $5,000 donation will be going to The Madeira School, a school that Sue herself attended when she was in high school because, she says, "the lessons I learned there as a student pretty much set the tone for my personal and professional life. It's so meaningful to know that the donation will go towards making a Madeira education more accessible to those who may not otherwise be able to afford it and providing them with a life-changing opportunity."

Most military children will move one to three times during high school so having a continuous four-year experience at one high school can be an important gift. After traveling for much of her formative years, Sue attended Madeira and found herself "in an environment that fostered confidence and empowerment. As young women, we were expected to have a voice and advocate not just for ourselves, but for those around us."

To learn more about Tory Burch and Upworthy's Empowered Women program visit https://www.toryburch.com/empoweredwomen/. Nominate an inspiring woman in your community today!

Photo by Tod Perry

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