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article imageSiberian Arctic sets record for June heat as wildfires spread

By Karen Graham     Jul 7, 2020 in Environment
Temperatures in Arctic Siberia soared to a record average for June, more than 5 degrees Celsius (9°F) above normal, in a heatwave that is stoking some of the worst wildfires the region has ever known.
“Exceptional warmth” was recorded over Arctic Siberia, the EU’s earth observation program Copernicus said, part of a trend scientists are calling a “warning cry." Siberia was once thought to be too frozen to burn, let alone melt. That has all changed in today's climate.
Scientists say the unprecedented heat in the region has helped to fuel wildfires -resulting in an estimated release of 59m tons of carbon dioxide, reports the BBC. The average temperature in Arctic Siberia in June was over a degree higher than in June in the last two years.
“The climate is changing faster in the Arctic and we are getting drier and warmer conditions which are ideal conditions for wildfires to burn,” Mark Parrington, senior scientist at Copernicus, told Reuters, referring to some of the worst wildfires in living memory that have intensified since June.
Siberia evokes images of chilly winters  but soaring temperatures this spring saw wild flowers bloom...
Siberia evokes images of chilly winters, but soaring temperatures this spring saw wild flowers bloom and ice cream sales soar
According to the Russian Forestry Agency, as of July 6, there were 246 forest fires covering 140,073 hectares (346,128 acres). A state of emergency has already been declared in seven regions. Copernicus says the fires have surpassed the record number of blazes seen in the region in the same month of last year.
According to Mark Parrington, a senior scientist at Copernicus, "Higher temperatures and drier surface conditions are providing ideal conditions for these fires to burn and to persist for so long over such a large area."
How worried should the world be about the Arctic heat?
"It is in line with predictions of global warming going back decades now," Professor Martin Siegert, of Imperial College London, says of these exceptional Arctic temperatures. "We don't really need further confirmation of this problem but here it is anyway."
So, yes, we should be very worried about this. "What happens in the Arctic doesn't stay in the Arctic," Professor Siegert said.
More about siberian arctic, record temperatures, Wildfires, Climate change, Permafrost
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