Climate change: Arctic hits ‘likely record’ of 100F – ‘Global ramifications’

The mercury hit a likely record in the Russian Arctic town of Verkhoyansk on Saturday. Last August, more than four million hectares (15,500 square miles) of forests in Siberia were on fire, according to climate change NGO Greenpeace.

This year the fires have begun burning even earlier than the usual July start, said Vladimir Chuprov, director of the project department at Greenpeace Russia.

Methane that originates in the Arctic does not stay in the Arctic. It has global ramifications

Professor Katey Walter Anthony

Unseasonably warm weather, particularly if coupled with wildfires, causes permafrost to thaw faster.

This, in turn, exacerbates global warming by releasing large amounts of methane.

This methane a potent greenhouse gas 28 times stronger than carbon dioxide, said Professor Katey Walter Anthony, a University of Alaska Fairbanks expert on methane release from frozen Arctic soil.

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Professor Walter Anthony said: “Methane escaping from permafrost thaw sites enters the atmosphere and circulates around the globe.

“Methane that originates in the Arctic does not stay in the Arctic. It has global ramifications.”

What is taking place in the Arctic can even warp the weather in Europe and the US.

In the summer, the unusual warming lessens the temperature and pressure difference between the Arctic and lower latitudes where more people live.

This phenomenon appears to weaken or even stall the jet stream.

And the effect of this means weather systems such as those bringing extreme heat or rain can remain in place for several days.

Meteorologists at Russian weather agency Rosgidrome believe factors including a high-pressure system with a clear sky and the Sun being very high, extremely long daylight hours and short warm nights have contributed to the Siberian temperature spike.

Marina Makarova, chief meteorologist at Rosgidrome, said: “The ground surface heats up intensively.

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“The nights are very warm, the air doesn’t have time to cool and continues to heat up for several days.”

The scientific consensus is the spike indicates a far larger global warming trend.

Dr Freja Vamborg, senior scientist at the UK’s Copernicus Climate Change Service, said: “The key point is that the climate is changing and global temperatures are warming.

“We will be breaking more and more records as we go.”

Waleed Abdalati, a former NASA chief scientist now working at the University of Colorado, added: “What is clear is that the warming Arctic adds fuel to the warming of the whole planet.

A catastrophic oil spill from a collapsed storage tank last month near the Arctic city of Norilsk has also partly blamed on melting permafrost.

In 2011, part of a residential building in Yakutsk, a city in the Sakha Republic, actually collapsed due to thawing of the frozen ground.

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