The Arctic experienced its hottest ever temperature amid a heatwave which resulted in devastating bushfires and heavy sea ice loss across Siberia last year.
Likening the 38-degree record to “befitting the Mediterranean”, the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) warned the region is warming at a rate twice the global average.
The temperature occurred on June 20, 2020 at the Russian town of Verkhoyansk during a year which was one of the three warmest on record.
Sentinel 3 satellite data indicates the Arctic Circle experienced a land temperature of 45 degrees the previous day.
Meteorologist Scott Duncan took to Twitter as he recalled the "ferocious multi-day heatwave".
"We are in a relentless Arctic heatwave — Siberia is literally on fire right now and it's set to continue," he wrote on June 20.
Verkhoyansk, where the record occurred, is located in the Republic of Sakha and is known for its very cold winters and hot summers, but last year temperatures were 10 degrees above average over the summer.
A station at the town has been observing weather conditions since 1885.
Temperature records smashed across the globe
Increasing instances of weather extremes reflect the impact of climate change, the WMO has confirmed.
The Geneva-based United Nations’ agency noted the weather extreme occurred during the same year the Antarctic continent experienced a record 18.3 degrees.
The world's hottest place, California's Death Valley may have also experienced its hottest ever days, with the WMO investigating claims the mercury may have soared to 54.4 on seperate occasions in 2020 and 2021.
WMO Secretary-General Professor Petteri Taalas said their Archive of Weather and Climate Extremes had never handled so many ongoing simultaneous investigations.
Climate-change effects likely to cascade
Climate Council spokesperson and Emeritus Professor at Australian National University, Will Steffen, told Yahoo News there will be a tipping point beyond which Arctic sea ice will no longer be seen during summer.
Projections suggest this could occur as early as 2040, and this will further accelerate heating in the far north.
“The danger of the heating up in Siberia is that's where there's quite a bit of permafrost,” he said.
“As the temperatures rise up there during summertime, that is increasing the melt of permafrost, and that releases greenhouse gases — both carbon dioxide and methane.
“Of course, that warms the planet further, so it’s another one of these cascading effects that we’re predicting.”
Seperate forces melting Arctic and Antarctic
Even if emissions are reduced, global temperatures will continue to rise for at least two to three decades due to momentum already in the system.
Arctic sea ice and permafrost will melt due to warmer air temperatures, while Antarctic ice sheets will destabilise due to warming waters.
“What's happening in west Antarctica is a lot of those ice sheets are actually grounded under sea level on bedrock,” Professor Steffen said.
“So, they're being eroded from underneath rather than from surface air temperature.
“That destabilises them just like taking a cork out of a bottle. Then surface glacier starts flowing if you loosen the ground under the surface.”
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