Meteorologists Confirm Record-High Arctic Temperature

A Siberian town shattered its record for June. The steady rise of the region's temperatures is playing a major role in climate change.

By Paolo DeAndreis
Dec. 17, 2021 10:45 UTC

On June 20, 2020, amid an unprece­dented heat­wave, the weather mon­i­tor­ing sta­tion in the Siberian city of Verkhoyansk detected a tem­per­a­ture of 38 ºC.

The United Nation’s World Meteorological Organization (WMO) has now con­firmed the record-high for the region, exceed­ing the aver­age tem­per­a­ture for June by 18 ºC.

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, gdneral-sec­re­tary, WMO

If you cast your mind back to last year, you will recall there was an excep­tional, pro­longed Siberian heat­wave,” Clare Nullis, a WMO spokesper­son, told a press con­fer­ence in Geneva. As a result of this heat­wave, we saw dev­as­tat­ing and very wide­spread Siberian fires, and we saw mas­sive Arctic sea ice loss at the end of the sum­mer sea­son.”

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Verkhoyansk is located on the Yena River, 115 kilo­me­ters north of the Arctic Circle. Its mete­o­ro­log­i­cal facil­i­ties started record­ing tem­per­a­tures in 1885.

The WMO experts val­i­dated the reported record after con­firm­ing the means and pro­ce­dures used by the facil­ity to ensure cor­rect mea­sure­ments were taken.

The Siberian town, along with the entire region, explained the WMO, has an extreme very harsh dry con­ti­nen­tal cli­mate, very cold win­ter and hot sum­mer.”

According to the WMO, that heat­wave and its con­se­quences played a sig­nif­i­cant role in mak­ing 2020 one of the three warmest years on record.

WMO experts said the new record should be con­sid­ered a snap­shot” of a chang­ing global sce­nario. They warned that even higher tem­per­a­tures might be recorded in the future in the Arctic Circle, which is the 66.5° lat­i­tude line.

The heat­wave that hit the Arctic had unique and severe char­ac­ter­is­tics, which led the U.N. agency to cre­ate a new cat­e­gory for record tem­per­a­tures.

Listed in the Archive of Weather and Climate Extremes, the new cat­e­gory is titled high­est recorded tem­per­a­ture at or north of 66.5°, the Arctic Circle.” The new list­ing will help WMO and other experts around the world to bet­ter track the pat­terns of cli­mate change in the polar area.

Both poles are now rep­re­sented in the archive, which first listed tem­per­a­ture extremes in Antarctica in 2007.

Fundamentally, this inves­ti­ga­tion high­lights the increas­ing tem­per­a­tures occur­ring for a cli­mat­i­cally impor­tant region of the world,” said Randall Cerveny, rap­por­teur of cli­mate and weather extremes for WMO.

Through con­tin­ued mon­i­tor­ing and assess­ment of tem­per­a­ture extremes, we can remain knowl­edge­able about the changes occur­ring in this crit­i­cal region of the world,” he added.

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Last July, the WMO rec­og­nized and con­firmed a new record-high tem­per­a­ture in Antarctica: 18.3 °C, reported on February 6 by the Esperanza weather sta­tion in Argentina.

An even higher tem­per­a­ture – 20.7 °C was recorded on Seymour Island – but the WMO did not con­firm the mea­sure­ment car­ried out by an auto­mated per­mafrost mon­i­tor­ing sta­tion.

During the inves­ti­ga­tion related to the Antarctic record, experts had deter­mined that a large high-pres­sure sys­tem over the area cre­ated föhn con­di­tions, downs­lope winds pro­duc­ing sig­nif­i­cant sur­face warm­ing, and resulted in local warm­ing at both Esperanza Station and Seymour Island.”

Similar phe­nom­ena in the past had also pro­duced record tem­per­a­ture sce­nar­ios in the area.

According to the WMO, both poles are warm­ing more quickly than the global aver­age. It is believed that the cur­rent pace of tem­per­a­ture rise in the Arctic is about dou­ble the global aver­age.

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,” WMO Secretary-General Petteri Taalas con­cluded.

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