Siberian Ground Temperatures Hit 118 Degrees, Shattering Records

Image: EU Copernicus Imagery

by Amy Lupica, ODP Staff Writer

As temperatures hit record highs in the Western U.S. this week, another heatwave was brewing in Siberia. New satellite imagery showed that ground temperatures in the Arctic circle topped 118 degrees Fahrenheit. Experts say that rising temperatures like these in the world’s coldest regions threaten oceans, permafrost, forests, and more. Moreover, experts say that this trend could cause irreversible damage to the region if countries don’t hurry to meet their climate goals.

Why This Matters: The Arctic is warming two to three times faster than the rest of the world.

  • Rising temperatures are melting glaciers faster than ever before, accelerating sea-level rise to affect coastal communities globally.
  • Meanwhile, “zombie fires” and thawing permafrost in Siberia destroy natural carbon sinks, releasing CO2 and highly potent methane into the atmosphere.
  • In nine out of the last ten years, the Arctic has seen temperatures at least one degree Celsius above average.

Experts say that protections for the Arctic are imperative to sequestering carbon and fighting climate change.

Melting, Sweltering: Land surface temperature is how hot the ‘surface’ of the Earth would feel to the touch in a particular location,” according to NASA. Imaging showed that temperatures near Verkhojansk, Russia, known for its extremely cold temperatures, hit 118 degrees Fahrenheit. Other Siberian towns experienced similarly high heat. Govorov saw ground temperatures of 109 degrees Fahrenheit and Saskylah saw temperatures hit 98.6 degrees Fahrenheit. Last year, the same region registered an air temperature of 100 degrees Fahrenheit, shattering previous records. 

These rising ground temperatures create severe risks for those who live and rely on the land. Melting permafrost releases methane that can explode massive holes into the Earth’s surface. It can also destabilize the ground, leading to landslides and damaging the foundations of buildings. Paleontologists say that the melting can also expose frozen Ice Age mammals, forcing researchers to race to collect data before it’s too late.

Andrew Ciavarella from the Met Office of the U.K. says that rising Siberian temperatures would be impossible without human damage to the environment. “Events of precisely the magnitude that we saw,” he said, referring to Siberia’s record-breaking 2020 summer, “they will increase in frequency, and it wouldn’t be unexpected that you would then see also events of an even higher magnitude as well.” Experts warn that although the damage may seem isolated to Siberia for now, these trends will have devastating implications across the globe.

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