Verkhoyansk is usually one of the coldest spots on the Earth. Last November, the region has reached nearly 60 degrees Fahrenheit below zero, one of the first spots to drop that low in the winter of 2019-2020. The scene below is certainly more characteristic of the eastern Siberia.
Reach 100 degrees in or near the Arctic is almost unknown. Although the reading is doubtful, in 1915, the city of Prospect Creek, Alaska, not quite as far north as Verkhoyansk, would have been close to 100 degrees. And, in 2010, a city a few kilometers south of the Arctic circle in Russia has reached 100.
As a result of the hot-dry right now, many fires are raging in the vicinity, and the smoke is visible thousands of kilometers on Satellite images.
This heat is not an isolated event. Some parts of Siberia have been scorching for weeks and remarkably superior to the normal for the month of January. Can featured amazing heat in western Siberia, where some regions have been 18 degrees Fahrenheit above normal, not just for a day, but for the month. As a whole, the west of Siberia by an average of 10 degrees above the normal for the month of May, erasing all that had been lived.
On 23 May, the Siberian city of Khatanga, in the far north of the Arctic Circle, hit 78 degrees Fahrenheit. It was 46 degrees above the normal and shattered the previous record by an almost-unknown-22 degrees. On June 9, Nizhnyaya Pesha, an area of 900 kilometres north-east of Moscow, near the Arctic Ocean, the Barents Sea, hit a sweltering 86 degrees Fahrenheit, 30 degrees above normal.
What is perhaps even more impressive is that this warmth has persisted since the month of December, with average temperatures in western Siberia 10 degrees Fahrenheit above the normal, is double that of the previous departure from average in 2016.
The average of the heat across Russia, from January to May, is so remarkable that it corresponds to what is projected at the normal by the year 2100 if current trends in heat-trapping carbon emissions continue. In the image below, the data point for 2020 is almost off the charts, and corresponds to what the climate models be expected to be typical of many decades from now.
The extreme events of recent years are due to a natural combination of the weather and human-caused climate change. The weather pattern resulting in this heat wave is a very stubborn ridge of high pressure; a dome of heat which extends vertically upward through the atmosphere. The sweltering heat is expected to remain in place for at least the next week, catapulting temperatures easily in the 90’s in the east of Siberia.
But this heat wave cannot be considered as an isolated case of weather. Last summer, the city of Markusvinsa, a village in the north of Sweden, on the southern edge of the Arctic Circle, hit 94.6°F. Warming and drying of the landscape is to head to the unprecedented Arctic fires in the summer of 2019 be the worst fire season on record.
Because of the heat-trapping greenhouse gas emissions resulting from the combustion of fossil fuels and of feedback loops, the Arctic is warming at more than twice the average rate of the planet. This phenomenon is known as Arctic Amplification, which leads to the decrease of the sea ice, and, in some cases, the cover of snow, due to rapidly warming temperatures.
Over the past four decades, the volume of sea ice has decreased by 50%. The absence of white ice, with a corresponding increase in the darkness of the ocean and the land, means less light reflected and more is absorbed, creating a feedback loop and heating of the area disproportionately.
As an average, the climate continues to warm, the extremes such as the current heat wave will become more frequent and intensify. Scientists say that there is only one way to cushion the impact of climate change and that is to stop the burning of fossil fuels.