Siberia – record heat wave and no end in sight | Polarjournal
Temperature map for the month of May 2020. Values above (red) and below (blue) the long-term mean. (Photo: Modis/NEO/Nasa)

When one thinks of Siberia, thoughts of cold and frost immediately come to the mind. However, that is not the case at the moment. The last winter is said to have been the warmest in 130 years. Now, the Russian wilderness is experiencing an unprecedented extreme summer. Temperatures reache up to 38 degrees Celsius.

Cooling off – Children take a bath in a lake in Siberia. (Photo: Olga Burtseva)

A prolonged heat wave in Siberia is “undoubtedly alarming,” climate scientists have said. The unusual temperatures have been linked to forest fires and a plague of tree-eating moths, according to The Guardian newspaper.

On a global scale, the heat in Siberia is helping the world to reach its hottest year to date in 2020, despite a temporary decline in carbon emissions due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Temperatures in the polar regions are rising the fastest as ocean currents transport heat to the poles and melt reflecting ice and snow covers.

Russian cities above the Arctic Circle have seen exceptional temperatures, with Nishnaya Pesha reaching 30°C on June 9 and Chatanga, which at this time of year usually has daytime temperatures of 0°C, on May 22 at 25°C. The previous record was 12 degrees Celsius. In Werkojansk, even 38°C were measured.

Time and again there are fires in the Russian tundra, which are out of control. Many are only discovered by satellite pictures. (Photo: NASA)

The heat wave is causing major problems for the authorities. In Siberia, 6,000 forest fires have already been registered in recent weeks, and it is likely to get worse. It is not only very warm, but also extremely dry. As a result, new forest fires keep breaking out. The area is sparsely populated and many fires are only detected by satellites from space. “This heat could have an impact on forest fires. It is important not only to take care of the trees, but also to the people. Local forest workers and forest workers can hardly bear such weather,” Sergei Semyonov of the Institute for Global Climate told the Moscow Times. In addition, the permafrost thaws faster and this only makes things worse and leads to further environmental damage. It is dramatic for the local fauna and flora.

In addition to the environment, the victims of the forest fires are also the flora and fauna of the area. (Photo: Tass)

Russia’s Arctic regions are among the fastest-growing regions in the world. Temperatures on Earth have risen steadily over the past few decades, by 0.18 degrees per decade. But in Russia it is 0.47 degrees – and in the Russian Arctic 0.69 degrees, as Andrei Kislyov, a scientist at the geophysical Voeikov Observatory in Moscow, says. “In this respect, we are ahead of the planet.”

Heiner Kubny, PolarJournal

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