The Arctic witnessed its hottest temperature on June 21 while some people still debate the reality of climate change. The town of Verkhoyansk in Siberia saw the Arctic hottest temperature hit 100.4 degrees Fahrenheit. This is 32 degrees Celsius over the usual high temperature that the arctic faces. So far, 100.4 degrees is the highest temperature that any area north of the Arctic circle has ever seen. The Arctic circle that starts at 66.5°N and is a frigid zone that never sees such high temperatures. While an official confirmation is yet to come, it is safe to say that global warming has hit the Arctic hard.
Where was the Arctic hottest temperature recorded?
Verkhoyansk is a tiny town in Siberia, north of the Arctic circle. To be more precise, it lies 3000 miles further east of Moscow. It is even farther up north than Fairbanks which is in Alaska. This is not the only place seeing record high temperatures. Just a day before on June 20, the city of Caribou in Maine saw its highest temperature ever as well. It saw a temperature of 96 degrees Fahrenheit which is way over the usual temperature levels.
To highlight how bad the situation is, let’s look at how Miami is doing. The city started recording temperature since 1896. Since then, it has managed to hit 100 degrees Fahrenheit temperature just once. These temperatures that the Arctic is currently seeing were not expected to show up till 2100. It is shocking that they have come up not a few decades but full 80 years in advance. This is no doubt a worrying indication of where our planet is headed in terms of global warming.
The rise in temperature is not a usual 4 to 5 degrees shift which is seen every year. This is a whole 32 degrees shift in just one go, that too on some of the coldest places in the world. Verkhoyansk is famous for being one of the coldest inhabited spots in the world. In the winters, the temperature hit 60 degrees in the month of November. These are the kind of temperatures that the Arctic usually sees.
A peculiar first-time occurrence
Nobody has heard of any place in the Arctic that has recorded a temperature of 100 degrees before. The only time another city recorded such a high temperature was in 1915. Yukon, in Alaska nearly hit 100 degrees Fahrenheit that year. However, Yukon is further down south as compared to Verkhoyansk. Thus, temperatures as high as this have never been recorded this up north in the Arctic. In 2010, only one other town just south of the Arctic circle saw such high temperatures.
For an area that never records such high temperatures, there are no doubt many ramifications. The weather conditions in the area around Verkhoyansk have become unexpectedly dry and hot. Thus, a lot of the shrubbery is on fire. Locals can see smoke billowing into the sky. Satellite images too, confirm that there are raging fires in the area. Most of these fires are to the east of Verkhoyansk.
Another worrying thing is that the Laptev Sea and the East Siberian Sea have large swathes of blue in satellite images. These blue swathes show water, which is collecting due to the melting ice. A lot of open water is visible when usually it is all frozen due to the cold.
Persistently high temperatures
Verkhoyansk isn’t the only place seeing such high temperatures and the associated environmental ramifications. For the past few weeks, many parts of Siberia are seeing high temperatures. This spell of high temperatures has been continuing since January. In May, many places reported seeing record-breaking temperatures.
Some places reported temperatures of up to 18 degrees above the normal temperature. These high temperatures didn’t just last a few days, but they persisted the whole month. Siberia as a region is seeing temperatures that are on an average 10 degrees above the normal. These 10 degrees rise has persisted right since December so it is not due to an unusually hot summer. This suggests that these higher temperatures are not seasonal but are in fact systematic. The rise in temperature in 2020 is double what we were seeing in 2016.
If you go higher up in the Arctic circle, you will come across the Siberian town of Khatanga. Now, the temperature in Khatanga has hit 78 degrees on May 23. This is 46 degrees above the normal temperature and is by far the hottest temperature the town is seeing. In fact, 78 degrees was a whole 22 degrees higher than the last highest recorded temperature in Khatanga. Such a huge jump in temperature is unheard of before, especially in a frigid area like Siberia. Another area called Nizhnyaya Pesha near the Barents Sea recorded 86 degrees. This is an astounding 30 degrees above the usual temperature of the region. Markusvinsa in Sweden is on the Southern end of the Arctic. It saw the temperature hit 94.6 degrees last year. Thus, this rise in temperature is not an isolated case in Siberia.
While global warming is the leading cause behind such high temperatures, the humans aren’t the only ones to blame. Unusual weather patterns in recent years have added to the problem. Even the Arctic isn’t spared by an intense heatwave being caused by a ridge composed of high pressure. Throughout the next week, such high temperatures are going to persist. In fact, some regions may even witness temperatures crossing 90 degrees Fahrenheit.
As per current global warming levels, we are not supposed to see such temperatures till the year 2100. The fact that they have shown up 80 years ahead of schedule is a wakeup call for everyone. If the Arctic being a frigid zone is recording such high temperatures, it spells trouble for the whole world. You can only imagine how the future of the rest of the world looks like if these trends continue. The world is reeling under the impact of a pandemic but we must not forget our environmental goals.