The small town of Verkhoyansk (67.5°N latitude) is one of the northernmost places in the world. Inside the Arctic circle, the highest temperature the town experiences typically reaches is somewhere around 71 degrees Fahrenheit.
This past Saturday, Verkhoyansk reached 100.4 degrees Fahrenheit, 32 degrees above the normal high temperature.
If verified by weather data, this is likely the hottest temperature ever recorded in Siberia and also the hottest temperature ever recorded north of the Arctic Circle, which begins at 66.5°N. The sweltering heat is forecast to remain in place for at least the next week, catapulting temperatures easily into the 90s in eastern Siberia.
These temperature spikes are coming up too fast and too frequently. On Friday, the town of Caribou, Maine tied at an all-time record of 96 degrees. That's a new record for the region and signs of disturbing trends in global warming.
Verkhoyansk is typically one of the coldest spots on Earth. This past November, the area reached nearly 60 degrees Fahrenheit below zero, one of the first spots to drop that low in the winter of 2019-2020. The hot-dry weather caused brush fires in the area, with smoke being visible for miles. For a region like that to hit triple digit temperatures is almost unheard of.
Due to heat trapping greenhouse gases that result from the burning of fossil fuels and feedback loops, the Arctic is warming at more than two times the average rate of the globe. This phenomenon is known as Arctic Amplification, which is leading to the decline of sea ice, and in some cases snow cover, due to rapidly warming temperatures.
Over the past four decades, sea ice volume has decreased by 50%. The lack of white ice, and corresponding increase in dark ocean and land areas, means less light is reflected and more is absorbed, creating a feedback loop and heating the area disproportionately.
As the average climate continues to heat up, extremes like the current heat wave will become more frequent and intensify. Scientists say there is only one way to dampen the impact of climate change and that is to stop burning fossil fuels.