The World Meteorological Organization recognized this Tuesday a new maximum temperature reached in the Arctic. The record came on June 20 last year when the Russian city of Verkhoyansk hit a record 38 degrees Celsius.
The temperature, more typical of the Mediterranean than the Arctic, was taken at a meteorological observation station during an exceptional and prolonged Siberian heat wave.
“The temperature we saw in Siberia in 2020 would have been impossible without climate change”Explained the Organization’s spokesperson, Clare Nullis. “The Arctic, as we have been saying for some time, is one of the parts of the planet that is warming the fastest; it heats up at more than twice the speed of the world average ”.
During much of the summer of last year, average temperatures in the Arctic area of Siberia reached records of up to 10 degrees Celsius above normal, causing devastating fires, the massive loss of sea ice and contributed greatly to making 2020 one of the three warmest years ever recorded.
Verkhoyansk is located about 115 kilometers north of the Arctic Circle and its weather station has been carrying out measurements since 1885. It is located in the north of the Republic of Sakha, in a region of eastern Siberia that has an extreme continental climate and very harsh (very cold winter and hot summer).
Historical research established, from the national records of the Arctic countries, that temperatures of 38 ° or higher were not known anywhere in the Arctic. Specifically, after rigorous analysis, the committee concluded that no past observation within Canada exceeded this value.
They investigate other extreme temperatures
The Secretary General of the Organization, Professor Petteri Taalas, pointed out that the record reached in the Arctic “is added” to a series of observations communicated to the Archive of extreme meteorological and climatic phenomena, which raises alarms about the evolution of the weather conditions. In 2020, a temperature record was also recorded in Antarctica (18.3 °). “
Taalas added that, apart from this extreme phenomenon, “researchers are trying to verify the 54.4 ° measurements recorded in both 2020 and 2021 in the hottest place in the world, Death Valley in California, and to validate a reported European temperature record of 48.8 ° on the Italian island of Sicily this summer. ”
The scientist also recognized that the extreme meteorological and climatic phenomena never had “so many simultaneous investigations in progress.”
© NASA / Kathryn Hansen
The loss of sea ice accelerates global warming and changes weather patterns.
Registration causes the creation of a new category
The Arctic is one of the fastest warming regions in the world and is doing so at a rate that is twice the world average. Extreme temperatures and climate change have prompted a group of experts from the UN agency add a new climate category to the Archive: “the highest temperature recorded in the Arctic Circle or north of 66.5⁰” north of the equator.
The Weather and Climate Extremes File includes the world’s highest and lowest temperatures, precipitation, heaviest hailstorms, longest dry spell, peak wind gusts, longest lightning strike, and weather-related deaths.
The new category supposes to give representation to the two polar regions. The Organization includes in its list the extreme temperatures of the Antarctic region since 2007 (polar regions located 60⁰ south of the equator, corresponding to the land areas and ice shelves included in the Antarctic Treaty).
“This research fundamentally highlights the rise in temperatures that is occurring in a climate important region of the world. Through continuous monitoring and assessment of extreme temperatures, we can know the changes that occur in this critical region of the world so important, the polar Arctic“said Professor Randall Cerveny, WMO Rapporteur on Weather and Climate Extremes.
“The record is clearly indicative of warming across Siberia,” said prominent British climatologist and committee member Phil Jones.
For his part, Blair Trewin, from the Australian Bureau of Meteorology and another member of the evaluation committee, indicated that “the verification of these types of records is important to have a reliable evidence base on the evolution of the most extreme phenomena of our climate ”.