People in the Russian Arctic town of Verkhoyansk are diving in the nearby Yana river to get some well-needed chill from the extreme heat. The temperatures have reached 100.4°F (38°C) and have stayed unusually high for a couple of weeks now.
Verkhoyansk is a small town situated 675 kilometers north of the “always freezing” Yakutsk, so it’s not exactly your typical summer resort. This is a place where temperatures as low as −90.0 °F (−67.8 °C) have been recorded, and which has a daily mean temperature of 55.8 °F (13.2 °C) in June.
All that said, we’re not talking about a small deviation but a huge spike, and the fact that it’s so prolonged tells us something about climate change.
Extremely hot again on the fringe of the Arctic Ocean.— Scott From Scotland (@ScottDuncanWX) June 30, 2020
An astonishing + 34 °C has just been recorded at a latitude of 73 °N today in Russia. This is about + 20-25 °C warmer than normal.
Note how much open water there is compared to normal. Sea ice is taking a hit. pic.twitter.com/y0w5PLjkHx
The Arctic warming is getting a lot of attention this week, but I keep seeing references to the warming being twice as fast as the global mean, and that’s not right.— Gavin Schmidt (@ClimateOfGavin) June 26, 2020
It’s more like 3 times the global mean. pic.twitter.com/n87VwaoQav
According to experts, who study the ongoing phenomenon with a mix of interest and concern, the current situation is the result of a combination of factors.
Last summer, more than four million hectares of forests in Siberia were burned down from wildfires, and this year, the fires started raging even earlier than usual. Last month, an oil tanker had a catastrophic accident that resulted in a big oil spill near the Arctic city of Norilsk. This incident resulted in the melting of permafrost which released methane and accelerated the temperature rise. And finally, it just happens that the weather is warm and the sky is clear right now.
Thinking that this is merely something that happens in a particular area would be the wrong approach to take here. Methane escapes from there and travels around the globe, so what happens in the Arctic accelerates global warming and brings even more extreme temperatures everywhere in the world. Verkhoyansk temperatures are sending a clear message to the whole world, but at the same time, our leaders continue to play deaf. And this is only the beginning of a catastrophic record-breaking temperatures streak that is about to come in the next couple of years.