Temperatures soar worldwide in May, with Siberia 10 degrees warmer than normal

Rob Waugh
·2-min read
Kurai steppe and Chuya river on North-Chui ridge background. Altai mountains, Russia. Aerial drone panoramic picture.
Kurai steppe and Chuya river on North-Chui ridge background. Altai mountains, Russia. Aerial drone panoramic picture.

The world saw soaring temperatures in May, with Siberia seeing temperatures 10 degrees Celsius warmer than average, a climate change monitoring service has reported.

Western Siberia, an area which is home to much of the world’s permafrost, has been unusually warm for months, researchers at the EU’s Copernicus Climate Change Service (C3S) said, according to Science Alert.

“The really large anomalies started during January, and since then this signal has been quite persistent,” C3S senior scientist Freja Vamborg said in an interview with AFP.

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Globally, May was 0.63 degrees Celsius warmer than the average May from 1981-2010, the report found.

The last 12-month period was close to 0.7 degrees Celsius warmer than average, matching the warmest 12-month period.

Previous research suggested that thawing permafrost could create a dangerous ‘feedback’ in global warming by releasing greenhouse gases.

The feedback mechanism (combined with the loss of heat-reflecting white ice) could increase global warming by 5%, reports suggested.

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In the Arctic region, temperatures have risen by two degrees Celsius since the 19th century, more than double the figure elsewhere.

The permafrost in Russia and Canada contains up to 1.5 trillion tonnes of carbon dioxide, 40 times the amount released annually.

Europe’s average annual temperature hit a record high last year, exceeding the previous hottest years on record, which were 2014, 2015 and 2018, the C3S said in its annual European State of the Climate report.

Of Europe’s 12 warmest years on record, 11 have occurred since 2000, the report found.

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“This warming trend is now unequivocal anywhere on the planet. And as a consequence of that, the frequency of these record-breaking events is going up,” C3S director Carlo Buontempo told Reuters.

This year looks likely to continue the warming trend. Copernicus data from December to February showed that Europe experienced its warmest winter on record.

The scientists said last year’s record temperatures came even though there was no El Nino, a weather pattern that typically leads to higher temperatures.

“This made the record-breaking events even more extraordinary,” Buontempo said.

Rather, high pressure weather events helped trigger the scorching heatwaves seen last June and July, when countries including France, Germany, Belgium and the Netherlands recorded their highest-ever temperatures.