UN says it verified new high temperature record for the Arctic

The United Nations has officially recognized a new high temperature record for the Arctic, confirming a reading of 38 degrees Celsius (100.4 Fahrenheit) taken in June 2020.

The World Meteorological Organization (WMO) issued a statement on Tuesday calling the temperature “more worthy of the Mediterranean than of the Arctic”.

The high reading, taken on June 20, 2020, in the Russian city of Verkhoyansk, came amid a prolonged Siberian heat wave in which the region reached up to 10 degrees C above normal.

“This new Arctic record is part of a series of observations reported to WMO archives on extreme weather and climate events that are sounding the alarm on climate change,” said Secretary General of WMO, Professor Petteri Taalas, in a statement.

“In 2020, there was also a new temperature record (18.3 ° C) for the Antarctic continent,” he added.

WMO said the Arctic “is among the fastest warming regions in the world” and that unprecedented temperatures have led it to add a new climate category for “the highest temperature on record at or north 66.5 ⁰, the Arctic Circle “in its records.

High temperatures “fueled devastating fires [and] resulting in massive loss of sea ice “which played” a major role in 2020 being one of the three hottest years on record, “he said.

As NPR’s Rebecca Hersher reported in June last year, 20,000 tonnes of diesel spilled into northern Siberia when storage tanks collapsed, possibly due to melting permafrost.

WMO said the new Arctic record was just one of many record high temperatures in 2020 and 2021 it was working to verify – including a reading of 54.4 ° C (129, 9 ° F) in Death Valley, California, the hottest place in the world, and a new European record of 48.8 C (119.8 F) on the island of Sicily.

“The WMO Archives of Extreme Weather and Climate Events have never had so many concurrent investigations underway,” Taalas said.

Copyright 2021 NPR. To learn more, visit https://www.npr.org.

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