The UN’s World Meteorological Organization (WMO) has officially certified the highest temperature ever recorded in the Arctic, raising “alarm bells” about climate change.
In June 2020, a “Mediterranean” 100 degrees Fahrenheit temperature was reported in the Siberian town of Verkhoyansk during the peak of an extended heatwave. Temperatures in the region that summer averaged up to 18 degrees Fahrenheit (10 degrees Celsius), according to the WMO.
”This new Arctic record is one of a series of observations reported to the WMO Archive of Weather and Climate Extremes that sound the alarm bells about our changing climate,” Petteri Taalas, the WMO’s secretary-general, said in a statement.
The severe heat was “more suitable of the Mediterranean than the Arctic,” and it was a major contributor in “fueling devastating fires, pushing massive sea ice loss, and playing a major influence in 2020 being one of the three warmest years on record,” according to WMO.
As per the Russian Forestry Agency data, Siberia’s wildfires were the worst this year, destroying more than 46 million acres (18.6 million hectares) of Russian forest in 2021 alone. In addition, the smoke from the massive firestorms traveled to the North Pole.
Verkhoyansk is located about 71 miles north of the Arctic Circle, and it has had a meteorological station since 1885. As a result, the organization was forced to design a new extreme weather monitoring classification specifically for the Arctic Circle: the “highest recorded temperature at or north of 66.5 degrees, the Arctic Circle.”
The Arctic is warming at a rate double than the global average, causing drastic changes in its climate. There have been several “zombie fires” produced by the burning of carbon-rich peat, the breaking up of some of the Arctic’s thickest ice, and permafrost thawing, all of which have the potential to release radioactive waste and awaken buried viruses.
Scientists have predicted that rising Arctic temperatures will cause the polar bear to go extinct by the end of the century. But, unfortunately, high temperatures are also leading to an increase in “pizzly” bears, aka grizzly-polar bear hybrid.
“It is possible, indeed likely, that greater extremes will occur in the Arctic region in the future,” said WMO.
The Arctic isn’t the only place where temperatures have reached new highs. Last year, Antarctica set a new temperature record of 64.94 F (18.3 C), recorded at Argentina’s Esperanza Base. In addition, a temperature of 119.8 degrees Fahrenheit (48.8 degrees Celsius) was recorded in Syracuse, Italy, this year, making it the highest recorded temperature in European history.
This summer, Death Valley in California had near-record heat, with temperatures exceeding 130 degrees Fahrenheit (54.4 degrees Celsius). This scorching heat came awfully close to tying the existing record for the highest temperature ever recorded anywhere on the planet: a blistering 131 F (55 C) on July 7, 1931, in Kebili, Tunisia.