Record temperature reported in Russian Arctic – UN
An exceptional heatwave that hit a town in Russia’s far north last summer has been confirmed by the United Nations’ weather agency as setting a record for the Arctic Circle, in a year which saw wildfires rip across the country.
In a statement released on Tuesday, the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) said that readings of 38 degrees Celsius (100.4 Fahrenheit) were logged in Verkhoyansk, home to 1,000 people, on June 20 last year. The temperatures occurred “during an exceptional and prolonged” heatwave.
The conditions were described by the WMO as “more befitting the Mediterranean,” and came as “average temperatures over Arctic Siberia reached as high as 10 degrees Celsius above normal” for much of the summer season. This resulted in massive fires and sea ice loss, which contributed to 2020 ranking among the three warmest years on record.
Verkhoyansk, which often dips to lows of -50 Celsius (-58 Fahrenheit), is situated 115km north of the Arctic Circle in Yakutia. The region is home to the village of Oymyakon – the world’s coldest permanently inhabited settlement – which regularly sees temperatures plunge to below -40 Celsius in winter.
Yakutia, however, has been hit by rising temperatures and devastating wildfires in recent years. The region is referred to by some as ‘the lungs of Russia’ because of its 265.1 million hectares of land covered by trees. This summer alone, fires destroyed 1.5 million hectares of forest.
Russian President Vladimir Putin sounded the alarm in August, warning that the average annual temperature for the past 44 years has been growing 2.8 times faster in his country than the global average. He said that this, “if not entirely, then at least to a large extent, is due to global climate change in our nation.”
Verkhoyansk already held the record for the place with the greatest temperature range on Earth. Temperatures in the small town had ranged between -68 and +37 degrees Celsius – a 105-degree difference. In Fahrenheit, that’s between -90 and +98.