Siberia’s Record-Breaking Heat Leads to Wild Fires and Alarm from Scientists

Image: Michael Robinson Chavez/The Washington Post

At the end of June, we wrote that a record-breaking high temperature of 100° F was detected in the northeastern Siberian town of Verkhoyansk. This caused alarm as this was one more indicator of the rapid warming happening at the Arctic Circle.

Unfortunately, this stretch of record heat has continued in Siberia where’s it’s accelerated permafrost thaw that’s lead to oil spills and wildfires.

As the Washington Post reported, “It was Siberia’s hottest June on record, beating out the previous record holders — 2018 and 2019 — by a significant margin, according to the Copernicus Climate Change Service, a science division of the European Union.”

  • Across the entirety of Arctic Siberia, June temperatures averaged about nine degrees above normal. A few places bordering the Laptev Sea in northeast Siberia spent the month 18 degrees above normal.

Why This Matters: Warming for an ecosystem as precious as the Arctic is disastrous for the people and animals that call it home but it also has implications for the rest of the world. Arctic wildfires will eat through our carbon budget, a warming Arctic will cause more erratic weather across the planet in addition to causing sea level rise.

As Carolyn Kormann explained for the New Yorker, climate models had predicted this phenomenon, known as Arctic amplification, but they did not predict how fast the warming would occur. And THAT’S the scary part, warming is occurring so rapidly that we don’t know all the ways in which it will affect entire regions and the planet at large.

Arctic Fires: The New York Times reported yesterday that according to a new report from European scientists, intense wildfires in the Arctic in June released more polluting gases into the Earth’s atmosphere than in any other month in 18 years of data collection.

Higher temperatures and drier surface conditions are providing ideal conditions for these fires to burn and to persist for so long over such a large area,” Mark Parrington, a fire specialist at the European Center for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts, which issued the report, said in a statement.

Heat is On: The Times also explained that exceptionally high temperatures in Russia’s Far North are also a harbinger of an unusually hot year worldwide. Average global temperatures this June nearly matched the record for 2019, and this year as a whole stands to be among the five hottest years on record.

For the contiguous United States and Alaska, there will be a widespread and prolonged stretch of extreme heat lasting through July. As Jeff Masters, a meteorologist at Yale Climate Connections, explained, “It’s not a record-breaking heat wave, but it is notable for its persistence.”

Even in the Great Lakes, the heatwave is quite pronounced.

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