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The highest temperature ever recorded in the Arctic has now been confirmed by the United Nations (UN).
A Siberian town broke Arctic records when it measured a temperature of 100.4°F (38°C) last year.
The World Meteorological Organization (WMO), a specialised agency that is part of the UN, has now officially recognised the temperature as a record high for the region, something it said sounded ‘alarm bells’ for climate change.
WMO has recognized temperature of 38°C (100.4°F) in Verkhoyansk (Russia) on 20.6.2020 as new #Arctic record— World Meteorological Organization (@WMO) December 14, 2021
It occurred during a prolonged heatwave, which drove massive fires and sea ice loss and contributed to 2020 being one of 3 warmest years on recordhttps://t.co/usGa3FsTQW pic.twitter.com/QYvEG1yj36
The temperature was recorded at a meteorological observing station in the town of Verkhoyansk on 20 June 2020, during an ‘exceptional and prolonged’ summer heatwave in Arctic Siberia.
Professor Petteri Taalas, the WMO’s secretary-general, said: “This new Arctic record is one of a series of observations reported to the WMO Archive of Weather and Climate Extremes that sound the alarm bells about our changing climate. In 2020, there was also a new temperature record (18.3°C) for the Antarctic continent."
Taalas added: “WMO investigators are currently seeking to verify temperature readings of 54.4°C recorded in both 2020 and 2021 in the world’s hottest place, Death Valley in California, and to validate a new reported European temperature record of 48.8°C in the Italian island of Sicily this summer.
"The WMO Archive of Weather and Climate Extremes has never had so many ongoing simultaneous investigations.”
The WMO warned how the Arctic is among the ‘fastest warming regions in the world’, saying it is now heating more than twice the global average.
The organisation said average temperatures over Arctic Siberia reached as high as 10°C above normal for ‘much of summer last year’, in turn fuelling ‘devastating fires, driving massive sea ice loss and playing a major role in 2020 being one of the three warmest years on record’.
The ongoing climate change has prompted a WMO panel of experts to add a new climate category - ‘highest recorded temperature at or north of 66.5⁰, the Arctic Circle’ - to its international Archive of Weather and Climate Extremes, which includes the world’s highest and lowest temperatures, rainfall, heaviest hailstone, longest dry period, maximum gust of wind, longest lightning flash and weather-related mortalities.
Professor Randall Cerveny, Rapporteur of Climate and Weather Extremes for WMO, said: “Fundamentally, this investigation highlights the increasing temperatures occurring for a climatically important region of the world.
"Through continued monitoring and assessment of temperature extremes, we can remain knowledgeable about the changes occurring in this critical region of the world, the polar Arctic.
“It highlights the need for sustaining long-term observations which provide us benchmarks of the state of the climate system.”
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