UN organization confirms hottest Arctic temperature

2021-12-16 11:41:36China Daily Editor : Li Yan ECNS App Download

The World Meteorological Organization has officially recognized a new Arctic temperature record of 38 C in the Russian town of Verkhoyansk, and the agency says it is investigating an unprecedented number of additional extreme weather events that it links to climate change.

The temperature, which the organization, also known as the WMO, described as "more befitting the Mediterranean than the Arctic", occurred on June 20 last year during a prolonged heatwave in Arctic Siberia, when temperatures were as much as 10 C above normal for much of the summer.

The WMO, which is a United Nations agency, said more temperature records are likely to follow around the world, due to the effects of climate change.

"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," said the WMO's secretary-general, Petteri Taalas. "In 2020, there was also a new temperature record of 18.3 C for the Antarctic continent."

Randall Cerveny, a rapporteur of climate and weather extremes for the WMO, said monitoring temperatures in the Arctic is important because the region is particularly vulnerable to climate change and is currently warming at twice the global average.

Since 1885, scientists have been taking measurements from a meteorological station at Verkhoyansk, where several records for both hottest and coldest Arctic temperatures have previously been confirmed.

"Fundamentally, this investigation highlights the increasing temperatures occurring for a climatically important region of the world," said Cerveny.

An analysis released last year by the European Space Agency highlighted the dire consequences of continued warming in the polar regions.

Using global climate models, the study predicted most of the Arctic Ocean could become ice-free during the summer by 2050.

In November, a group of climate scientists and campaigners called Arctic Basecamp hauled a 4-ton iceberg from Greenland to Glasgow, Scotland, during the COP26 climate change summit, in order to remind UN delegates about the precarious situation in the Arctic region.

The WMO is seeking to verify a number of other extreme temperatures registered during the past few years, including an as yet unvalidated reading of 54.4 C taken in Death Valley, California, United States, in August last year. If verified it will be the third-hottest temperature ever recorded on the planet, and the highest recorded for 90 years.

If confirmed, a reading of 48.8 C on the Italian island of Sicily taken in August of this year would be a record for continental Europe.

"The WMO Archive of Weather and Climate Extremes has never had so many ongoing simultaneous investigations," Taalas said.


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