by Daanyal Raja
Within the past week, the Siberian town of Verkhoyansk recorded their temperature to be 38ºC, (approximately 100ºF). The record still needs to be verified, but this temperature is 18ºC higher than the average maximum daily temperature in that area during June. The town of Verkhoyansk has a population of about 1,300 people and faces extreme temperatures year round. Although hot weather is not a rare occurrence in the town and in the Arctic Circle, temperatures have been unusually high in recent months. Throughout March, April, and May, the Copernicus Climate Change service claimed that the average temperature within the circle was approximately 10ºC above average.
Record high temperatures have also become more frequent throughout the region. The small Russian town of Khatanga broke a temperature record of 25.4ºC in May (78ºF), with parts of Siberia recording 30ºC (86ºF) in early June. Dr. Dann Mitchell, an associate professor in atmospheric science at the University of Bristol told BBC, “Year-on-year temperature records are being broken around the world, but the Arctic is warming faster than anywhere else on Earth […] We will see more [records being broken] in the near future.”
Arctic warming leads to the thawing of frozen permafrost below ground. As permafrost thaws, methane and carbon dioxide that were previously locked underground are released into the open air. This worries scientists and meteorologists, as these greenhouse gases can cause more warming and lead the arctic climate into a positive feedback cycle that ultimately ends with more permafrost thawing. Increasing temperatures can also cause reflective land ice in the Arctic to melt more rapidly, which would contribute to rising sea levels. Worse yet, wildfires also must be considered. Last year, wildfires scorched parts of the Arctic, and they were more severe due to high temperatures and strong winds. This year, according to Russia’s emergencies minister, wildfires were ten times larger in Siberia’s Krasnoyarsk region compared to the same time last year.