The Russian Arctic town of Verkhoyansk on Saturday hit a record 100.4 degrees Fahrenheit amid a Siberian heatwave that has fueled large wildfires and alarmed scientists who say the spike in the weather is indicative of a much bigger global warming trend.
The Siberian town of Verkhoyansk had never eclipsed 100 degrees.
“What is clear is that the warming Arctic adds fuel to the warming of the whole planet,” Waleed Abdalati, a former NASA chief scientist who is now at the University of Colorado, told The Associated Press.
“The Arctic is figuratively and literally on fire — it’s warming much faster than we thought it would in response to rising levels of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, and this warming is leading to a rapid meltdown and increase in wildfires,” University of Michigan environmental school dean Jonathan Overpeck, a climate scientist, said in an email to the news outlet.
“The record warming in Siberia is a warning sign of major proportions,” Overpeck added.
Andrei Kiselyov, Moscow’s Voeikov Main Geophysical Observatory director, said Russia’s average temperature has increased by 0.85 degrees every decade.
Persistent warm weather causes permafrost to thaw faster. Permafrost provides the foundations for many buildings and pipelines in Siberia.
Thawing permafrost also releases more heat-trapping gas and dries out the soil, which increases wildfires, said Vladimir Romanovsky, who studies permafrost at the University of Alaska Fairbanks.
“In this case it’s even more serious, because the previous winter was unusually warm,” Romanovsky told the AP. The permafrost thaws, ice melts, the soil subsides and then it can trigger a feedback loop that worsens permafrost thawing and “cold winters can’t stop it,” Romanovsky said.