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Tuesday, 4 August 2020

While the world understandably looks toward the Coronavirus and the social and political problems of America, an exceptionally prolonged heatwave has been causing havoc in Northern Siberia since June with temperatures up to 10°C (50F) above average.


Earthwindmap showing incredible temperatures in North Siberia recently.

While the world understandably looks toward the Coronavirus and the social and political problems of America, global warming, or climate change, whatever you want to call it has been relatively forgotten in 2020. However, an exceptionally prolonged heatwave has been causing havoc in Northern Siberia since June with temperatures up to 10°C (50F) above average. Further West, the northernmost inhabited Arctic town, Longyearbyen on the Norwegian archipelago of Svalbard, saw a new record temperature of 21.7°C (72F) on 25 July, compared to July average of 5.9°C, (43F).

On the 20th of June, a temperature of 38 deg C (100F) was recorded in the Russian town of Verkhoyansk. The prolonged heat is related to a vast blocking pressure system and a persistent northward swing of the jet stream, allowing warm air into the region. Nevertheless, such extreme heat would have been almost impossible without the influence of human-caused climate change, according to a rapid attribution analysis by a team of leading climate scientists. “The Arctic is heating more than twice as fast as the global average, impacting local populations and ecosystems and with global repercussions. “What happens in the Arctic does not stay in the Arctic. Because of teleconnections, the poles influence weather and climate conditions in lower latitudes where hundreds of millions of people live,” said WMO Secretary-General Petteri Taalas.

Arctic Fires Satellite images from Europe's Sentinel 3

Arctic Fires Satellite images from Europe's Sentinel 3 showed that the wildfires currently affecting Siberia inside and outside the Arctic Circle cover a width of about 800 kilometres. The fire front of the northernmost currently active Arctic wildfire reached over the 71.6N, less than 8 kilometres from the Arctic Ocean. July 2020 has witnessed an escalation in Arctic fires previously unseen in the EU Copernicus Atmosphere Monitoring Service Global Fire Assimilation System data. July total estimated wildfire CO2 emissions have totally smashed the record set in 2019 and are the highest in the 18-year-old data record of the Copernicus Atmosphere Monitoring Service, implemented by the European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts (ECMWF), which is monitoring the fire activity and the resulting pollution to assess its impact on the atmosphere.

Earthwindmap showing dangerous 2.5PM particulates from the wildfires in Siberia.

The Siberian heatwave this past spring has 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, according to the available operational products of the U.S. National Snow and Ice Data Center and the US National Ice Centre (NIC). The Northern Sea route appears to be nearly open. By contrast, the other areas of the Arctic seas appear to be near the 1981 to 2010 average for this time of year. Such contrasts serve as prominent examples of the larger variations that occur for sea ice extent on the regional scale, in comparison to the Arctic Ocean as a whole, according to NSIDC/NIC products. There is an increasing demand for summer sea ice extent at regional scales, and with the increased spatial resolution is important on a daily basis in support of Arctic ice monthly value navigation, while monthly and seasonal averages are more relevant in climate terms. Typically, most melting occurs between July and September, when the annual minimum sea ice extent occurs. The lowest sea ice extent on record was in September 2012. WMO

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