Randy Cerveny, a professor at Arizona State University who leads the World Meteorological Organization’s (WMO) weather and climate extremes team told the Washington Post, which reported the data, that the UN agency was “preliminarily accepting the observation as a new extreme, pending further detailed review.”
The record over the weekend was reached in Verkhoyansk, which is located within the Arctic Circle, where the temperature has been recorded since the 1880s. The average June high temperature in Verkhoyansk is normally 68 degrees (20 Celsius).
In response to the Washington Post article, Bill McKibben, the founder of 350.org, tweeted:
Siberian town tops 100 degrees F, the hottest temperature ever recorded north of the Arctic Circle.
This scares me, I have to say. https://t.co/NatjQhuLGn
— Bill McKibben (@billmckibben) June 21, 2020
However, even this record now seems to have been broken. Earlier today, the European Commission reported that land surface temperatures in the Arctic had been recorded at 45 degrees Centigrade, a staggering 113 degrees Fahrenheit.
#ImageOfTheDay #ArcticHeatWave #ClimateAction #EUSpace
Many air ?? records have recently been broken in #Siberia
On 19 June Land Surface Temperature (LST) reached 45°C at several locations in the #Arctic Circle
Data retrieved by #Sentinel3 ????
Check the 2019-2020 comparison ?? pic.twitter.com/aFggpPmJiY
— ?? DG DEFIS #UnitedAgainstCoronavirus (@defis_eu) June 23, 2020
Commentators were aghast on Twitter:
45C. 45C. 45C. 45C. 45C. 45C. 45C. 45C. 45C. 45C. 45C. 45C. 45C. 45C. 45C. 45C. 45C. 45C. 45C. 45C. 45C. 45C. 45C. 45C. 45C. 45C. 45C. 45C. 45C. 45C. 45C. 45C. 45C.
Actually take a second to think about that.
45C. In the Arctic Circle. 45C https://t.co/I96m6KFJJU
— James Murray (@James_BG) June 23, 2020
1. all time heat record June 2020
2. 95% of old ice gone
3. ice free by 2021-2031
4. fastest warming place on Earth
5. no evidence sea ice will recover
6. vast wildfires mean carbon bursts
7. melting is destabilising the climate
8. permafrost collapse is irreversible pic.twitter.com/lpURN8APIp
— Ben See (@ClimateBen) June 23, 2020
Recently the scientists at the Copernicus Climate Change Service published a report on “unusually mild winter and spring in Siberia”.
They noted that in Siberia “the whole of winter and spring had repeated periods of higher-than-average surface air temperatures, particularly from January onward… what is unusual in this case is how long the warmer-than-average anomalies have persisted.” Last month, May was the warmest May “by far.”
What is even more extraordinary is that these records are what scientists predicted would happen way into the future. As the Daily Kos notes: “The average heat across Russia from January to May is so remarkable that it matches what’s projected to be normal by the year 2100 if current trends in heat-trapping carbon emissions continue.”
No wonder scientists are concerned. Chris Rapley of University College London told the BBC, “We’ve upset the energy balance of the entire planet. This is a warning message from the Earth itself. We ignore it at our peril.”
The high temperatures will bring other problems too.
As the Arctic ocean warms it will absorb more carbon dioxide, leading to greater ocean acidification. A recent study by climate scientists from the University of Bern and École Normale Supérieure in Paris found that ocean acidification threatens the life of mussels and “sea butterflies” and can have serious consequences for the entire food chain.
A study published in the scientific journal Nature found that “it will be more difficult for Arctic organisms to adapt to ocean acidification than previously expected,” according to co-author Lester Kwiatkowski. It makes for a grim conclusion which has far reaching ramifications; “a loss of these organisms is likely to impact the entire Arctic food chain up to fish and marine mammals.”
The Arctic is boiling and the whole Arctic food chain is at risk. It is a stark warning and one that demands an immediate response by politicians and policy makers. We need a rapid transition out of fossil fuels now.