Siberia’s recent heat wave has reached a new high—100.4°F, to be exact, pending verification from the World Meteorological Organization.
If confirmed, the temperature will be the hottest ever recorded in an area north of the Arctic Circle, whose latitude starts at 66.5°N. According to CBS News, it occurred in a small town called Verkhoyansk, which is located at 67.5°N—about 3000 miles east of Moscow—and is known for its frigid winter weather. Last November, for example, temperatures dropped more than 50 degrees below 0°F.
Verkhoyansk does thaw out considerably during the summer months, but its June averages usually hover around 68°F, which is still considerably cooler than what residents have been experiencing for the last few days (and will continue to experience for a week or more). This recent heat wave is the result of what meteorologists call a “heat dome,” which is when a ridge of high pressure in the atmosphere settles over an area and prevents hot air from rising and dispersing, instead forcing it back to the surface where it causes abnormally hot temperatures.
But the strangely high thermometer readings aren’t limited to one town or one weather pattern. Western Siberia as a whole has been averaging noticeably warmer temperatures since December, and the extended slew of scorchers is damaging more than just its reputation as one of the coldest regions on Earth. As The Washington Post reports, the heat has contributed to permafrost melt, a devastating oil spill, and a violent outbreak of wildfires. The increasingly hot temperatures in the Arctic are partially the product of our burning fossil fuels, which releases greenhouse gases, trapping heat in the atmosphere.
In other words, while Verkhoyansk may have hit 100°F over the weekend because of a heat dome, climate change is the bigger culprit.
[h/t CBS News]