Energy & Environment

UN weather agency certifies record high Arctic temperature

Associated Press/John McConnico

The United Nations logged the hottest temperature in history in the Arctic, finding that the Russian town of Verkhoyansk hit 38 degrees Celsius (100.4 Fahrenheit) in the summer of 2020.

The World Meteorological Organization (WMO) announced the record heat in Verkhoyansk in a Tuesday press release, explaining that a meteorological station in the region completed the research.

The news confirmed fears of potential record-setting temperatures in the Arctic after 2020 was reported to be one of the hottest years on record.

“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 organization’s secretary-general, said in a statement.

The average temperature in the Siberian Arctic climbed as high as 10 degrees Celsius (50 degrees Fahrenheit) last year, according to the WMO, sparking massive wildfires and drastic sea ice loss.

The Siberian town, about 70 miles from the Arctic circle, is one of the coldest places on the planet. But the temperature record confirms that the most remote, northern regions of the world, known for freezing temperatures, are warming fast under climate change.

“The extremes presented before the WMO for adjudication are ‘snapshots’ of our current climate,” WMO wrote in the press release. “It is possible, indeed likely, that greater extremes will occur in the Arctic region in the future.”

The Arctic is already the fastest warming region of the world, heating at twice the global average. Melting sea ice in the Arctic has worried climatologists for years, and the Arctic will likely shift toward a rain-dominated climate before the end of the century.

Since the summer of 2020, Verkhoyansk was feared to have recorded the hottest temperature in the Arctic, with meteorologists speculating to Vox that the temperature record would be a 1-in-100,000 year event if not for climate change.

The WMO is looking to verify temperature records in other places, including the hottest region in the world, Death Valley, Calif., which may have recorded the hottest temperature of 129 degrees Fahrenheit in 2020 and 2021.

Tags Arctic Climate Change global warming hot temperatures ice melt Russia Siberia United Nations Warming World Meteorological Organization

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