UN weather agency warns of ‘global repercussions’ amid Arctic heatwave

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The UN weather agency warned that average temperatures in Siberia were 10C (18F) above average last month. It’s a spate of exceptional heat that has fanned devastating fires in the Arctic Circle and contributed to a rapid depletion in ice sea off Russia’s Arctic coast.

World Meteorological Organisation secretary-general Petteri Taalas said in a statement:

The Arctic is heating more than twice as fast as the global average, impacting local populations and ecosystems and with global repercussions

He noted that Earth’s poles influence weather conditions far away, where hundreds of millions of people live.

Record-high temperatures and human-caused climate change

WMO previously cited a reading of 38C (100.4F) in the Russian town of Verkhoyansk on 20 June. The agency has been seeking to verify this 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 US National Snow and Ice Data Centre and the US National Ice Centre showed the Siberian heat wave had “accelerated the ice retreat along the Arctic Russian coast, in particular since late June, leading to very low sea ice extent” off Russia’s arctic coast.

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