What is the news?
World Meteorological Organization (WMO) has confirmed that Verkhoyansk, a Siberian town experienced the highest temperature of 38oC, the highest ever recorded temperature in the Arctic region.
This place falls in eastern Siberia, which has an extremely harsh dry continental climate (very cold winter and hot summer).
On February 6th 2020, at the Esperanza station in Argentina considered to be a part of the Antarctic region, a temperature of 18.3°C was recorded.
These events indicate that the region in and around both Arctic and Antarctic is being warmed gradually.
What is arctic circle?
All landmasses and seas north of 66.5° latitude are considered the Arctic region. The latitude itself is called the Arctic Circle.
What is the significance of this news?
It indicates the gradual warming of the Arctic region due to the climate change induced global warming.
Further, it indicates how our climate’s most extreme extremes are changing.
Moreover, the impact of warming on the region is such that the WMO has added a new category — “highest recorded temperature at or north of 66.5⁰C, the Arctic Circle” — to its international Archive of Weather and Climate Extremes.
What are the causes?
Global warming– Arctic region is warming at twice the rate than the rest of the world, mainly because of human-made greenhouse gas emissions. The increased rate of warming is because of a phenomenon known as Arctic amplification.
Arctic amplification is the process in which the melting ice hastens the process of warming by exposing areas that are not good at reflecting back heat into the atmosphere.
This creates a cycle between melting ice and rising temperatures, amplifying the impact of warming.
How the climate of Arctic region is changing?
At the time the highest temperature was recorded, most of the Arctic region, especially Siberia, was experiencing an unprecedented heatwave, with temperatures in the Siberian Arctic rising up to 10°C above normal.
This has lead to forest fires and massive sea ice loss and was one of the reasons for 2020 becoming one of the three warmest years on record despite a cooling La Niña phenomenon towards the end of the year.
Source– This post is based on the article “WMO Confirms 2020 heat record in Siberian town” published in Down to earth on 16th Dec 2021.