Extreme Arctic heat impacting sea ice
July 28, 2020 - A spate of exceptional heat has spread across the Arctic Circle, triggering record-high temperature readings and putting the region on track to post the lowest-ever sea ice coverage in 2020.
The Arctic is heating more than twice as fast as the global average, impacting local populations and ecosystems and with global repercussions, the World Meteorological Organisation (WMO) said.
WMO previously cited a reading of 38°C in the Russian town of Verkhoyansk on June 20, which the agency has been seeking to verify as a possible record-high temperature in the Arctic Circle. It comes as fires have swept through the region, with satellite imagery showing the breadth of the area surface.
The agency says the extended heat is linked to a large “blocking pressure system” and northward swing of the jet stream that has injected warm air into the region. But WMO also pointed to a recent study by top climate scientists who found that such a rise in heat would have been nearly impossible without human-caused climate change.
WMO said information collected by the U.S. National Snow and Ice Data Centre and the U.S. National Ice Centre showed the Siberian heatwave had “accelerated the ice retreat along the Arctic Russian coast, in particular since late June, leading to very low sea ice extent in the Laptev and Barents Seas.”
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