Arctic heat wave driving record temperatures, forest fires

A woman near the ruins of a summer house destroyed by a fire in a dacha community in the Moshkovo district, Novosibirsk region, southern Siberia. The Novosibirsk region is experiencing hundreds of fires believed to have been caused by burning old grass.

Kirill Kukhmar | TASS | fake pictures

The World Meteorological Organization warned on Friday that temperatures in Siberia were approximately 18 degrees. [10 degrees Celsius] Above average in June, when devastating fires break out in the Arctic and ice melts off the Arctic coast.

“The Arctic is warming more than twice as fast as the world average, impacting local populations and ecosystems and having global repercussions,” WMO Secretary-General Petteri Taalas said in a statement.

The Siberian heat wave and record heat in the Arctic would be virtually impossible without human-made climate change, according to a recent study by the World Weather Attribution project.

WMO also said the heat wave is due in part to a blocking pressure system and a northward turn of the jet stream that is sending hot air to the region.

Temperatures in the Siberian city of Verkhoyansk reached a record 100.4 degrees [38 degrees Celsius] in June. The Arctic has experienced its highest annual temperatures between 2016 and 2019, and 2020 is expected to be even hotter.

“What happens in the Arctic does not stay in the Arctic. Due to teleconnections, the poles influence climate and climatic conditions in the lower latitudes where hundreds of millions of people live,” said Taalas.

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Arctic forest fires ignited unusually earlier this year due to hot and dry conditions in Siberia. In June, they released more polluting gases into the environment than any other fire in nearly two decades of data collection.

The flames have devastated local ecosystems and habitats and released carbon dioxide and soot that heat the planet.

Fires have also thawed permafrost that contains methane and carbon dioxide. Scientists warn that melting permafrost could release up to 240 billion tons of carbon into the atmosphere by 2100.

It is practically certain that 2020 will be among the hottest years in history, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Last year was the second hottest year in history, culminating in the hottest decade on record as global warming accelerates.