Siberia is now setting record high temperatures. On June 20, the town of Verkhoyansk reported a temperature of 38 degrees Celsius, or 100.4 degrees Fahrenheit, which is the record for highest Arctic temperature.
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Verkhoyansk is 6 miles north of the Arctic Circle and about 260 miles south of the Arctic coast. It ties with Oymyakon, about 400 miles southeast, for the title of coldest village in the world. Although people are alarmed by the new record high temperature, Verkhoyansk already holds the Guinness World Record for the greatest temperature range on Earth. Previously recorded temperatures range from -67.8 degrees Celsius in winter to 37.3 degrees Celsius in summer. The town hit its former highest temperature, which equals 99.1 degrees Fahrenheit, back in July of 1988.
Average late June highs in Verkhoyansk reach the upper 60s. Persistent heat this year is due to what meteorologists call blocking high pressure aloft. A blocking high pressure system can sit over an area for days, causing a heat wave as other weather systems have to go around it. High pressure aloft compresses air downward, warming the lower atmosphere and trapping heat. This block has prevented colder air from Russia’s Arctic coast to push through and cool the region.
High temperatures and dry air fuel the wildfires that have been burning in parts of northern Russia since April. This weather pattern is also not good for Arctic sea ice coverage along the Siberian coast, which is at a 41-year low for June. In Norsilsk, Russia earlier this month, thawing permafrost led to a diesel fuel spill when a storage tank’s pillars sank and the tank collapsed.
“What’s happening in Siberia this year is nothing short of remarkable,” climate specialist Jeff Berardelli said in a tweet on June 20. “The kind of weather we expect by 2100, 80 years early. For perspective Miami has only reached 100 degrees once on record.”
Image via Sergey Gabdurakhmanov