It’s a balmy 100.4 degrees Fahrenheit — lawn chair, suntan lotion and cool drink, time.
One would think you’re in the sunny Caribbean or Rio de Janeiro, enjoying this heat wave.
Rather, this temperature was recorded in the Arctic, and that’s got scientists worried about what it means for the rest of the world, CGTN.com reported.
The thermometer hit a likely record of 38 degrees Celsius (100.4 F) in the Russian Arctic town of Verkhoyansk last Saturday, a temperature that would be a fever for a person, but this is Siberia, known for being frozen.
The World Meteorological Organization said Tuesday that it’s looking to verify the temperature reading, which would be unprecedented for the region north of the Arctic Circle, the report said.
“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.
“The record warming in Siberia is a warning sign of major proportions,” Overpeck wrote.
Much of Siberia had high temperatures this year that were beyond unseasonably warm. From January through May, the average temperature in north-central Siberia has been about eight degrees Celsius (14 F) above average, according to the climate science non-profit Berkeley Earth, the report said.
“That’s much, much warmer than it’s ever been over that region in that period of time,” Berkeley Earth climate scientist Zeke Hausfather said.
Siberia is in the Guinness Book of World Records for its extreme temperatures. It’s a place where the thermometer has swung 106 degrees Celsius (190 F), from a low of minus 68 degrees Celsius (-90 F) to now 38 degrees Celsius (100.4 F), the report said.
For residents of the Sakha Republic in the Russian Arctic, a heat wave is not necessarily a bad thing. Vasilisa Ivanova spent every day this week with her family swimming and sunbathing.
“We spend the entire day on the shore of the Lena River,” said Ivanova, who lives in the village of Zhigansk, 270 miles (430 kilometers) from where the heat record was set. “We’ve been coming every day since Monday.”
But for scientists, “Alarm bells should be ringing,” Overpeck wrote.
Such prolonged Siberian warmth hasn’t been seen for thousands of years “and it is another sign that the Arctic amplifies global warming even more than we thought,” Overpeck said.
The increasing temperatures in Siberia have been linked to prolonged wildfires that grow more severe every year and the thawing of the permafrost, a huge problem because buildings and pipelines are built on them, the report said.
Last August, more than four million hectares of forests in Siberia were on fire, according to Greenpeace. This year the fires have already started raging much earlier than the usual start in July, said Vladimir Chuprov, director of the project department at Greenpeace Russia.
According to meteorologists at the Russian weather agency Rosgidromet, a combination of factors, such as a high pressure system with a clear sky and the sun being very high, extremely long daylight hours and short warm nights, have contributed to the Siberian temperature spike, the report said.
“The ground surface heats up intensively. The nights are very warm, the air doesn’t have time to cool down and continues to heat up for several days,” said Marina Makarova, chief meteorologist at Rosgidromet.
Makarova added that the temperature in Verkhoyansk remained unusually high from Friday through Monday.
Scientists agree that the spike is indicative of a much bigger global warming trend.
“The key point is that the climate is changing and global temperatures are warming,” said Freja Vamborg, senior scientist at the Copernicus Climate Change Service in the UK. “We will be breaking more and more records as we go.”