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Siberia Sizzles in ‘Worst Heat Wave in History’

Siberia heatwave
A satellite image of the intense and prolonged heat wave Siberia experienced in 2020. Credit: NASA

Siberia is in the grips of an unprecedented heat wave, shattering numerous temperature records and subjecting the region to scorching temperatures exceeding 100 degrees Fahrenheit (37.7 degrees Celsius).

This extreme heat event is occurring early in the month of June, indicating the alarming nature of the conditions.

Last Saturday, Jalturovosk, a town in Siberia, experienced its hottest day on record, with temperatures reaching a sweltering 37.9 degrees Celsius (100.2 degrees Fahrenheit).

According to climatologist Maximiliano Herrera, who monitors extreme temperatures worldwide, an array of heat records has fallen since then, showing the intensity of the heat wave.

On Wednesday, the situation escalated further as several all-time heat records were broken across Siberia. Baevo recorded a scorching 39.6 degrees Celsius (103.3 degrees Fahrenheit), while Barnaul witnessed temperatures as high as 38.5 degrees Celsius (101.3 degrees Fahrenheit).

Some of these stations have between five and seven decades of temperature recordings, Herrera told CNN. “So we can say it’s really exceptional.” It’s the region’s “worst heat wave in history,” he posted on Twitter on Wednesday.

Siberia tends to see large monthly and yearly temperature fluctuations, but the last few decades have seen a strong warming trend.

“Siberia is one of the fastest warming regions on the planet with hot extremes increasing in intensity,” Omar Baddour, chief of climate monitoring and policy services at the World Meteorological Organization, told CNN.

The region “has seen some very intense heat waves,” said Samantha Burgess, deputy director of the European Union’s Copernicus Climate Change Service.

“These heat waves have major implications for people and nature and will continue to happen more frequently unless we rapidly cut emissions of greenhouse gases,” she told CNN.

Global warming responsible for heat wave in Siberia

Scientific analysis is likely to investigate the role of climate change in this event, but it is well-established that global warming contributes to more frequent and extreme temperature occurrences, particularly in higher latitudes.

In fact, a study conducted by an international team of scientists concluded that the intense and prolonged heat wave experienced in 2020, which led to Verkhoyansk in Arctic Siberia reaching 100.4 degrees Fahrenheit (38 degrees Celsius), would have been nearly impossible without human-induced climate change.

Heat waves and overall climate change has scientists around the globe sounding the alarm and calling for the necessity of taking immediate measures.

“It is now crucial that all necessary measures are taken to tackle climate change and reduce its effects to a minimum,” Academy of Athens Secretary General, Christos Zerefos said recently.

“Climate change has changed our lives drastically…Everyone is now convinced that something is wrong. They are convinced that extreme weather phenomena cost lives and money,” he continued.

According to the professor, in the last 60 years, we have seen a number of heatwaves that previously were recorded over the span of 100 years.

Furthermore, now we see heatwaves occurring in areas such as the Arctic, Russia (including Siberia) and Canada, which traditionally have much more moderate temperatures.

In recent years, we are encountering these extreme weather phenomena not only more and more often,  but also with greater intensity, Zerefos said.

Related: Heatwaves in Greece Increase in Duration, Intensity and Frequency


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