It’s Official: Arctic Heat Record of 100°F Broken Last Year

A hundred degrees Fahrenheit (or 38°C) is pretty warm for much of the planet in summer, but for the Arctic, it was unthinkable—until now.


On December 14, 2021, the UN’s World Meteorological Organization (WMO) officially announced that a temperature of 38°C had been measured on June 20, 2020, in the Siberian town of Verkhoyansk.

Heat turns Siberian forests into a tinderbox ©Anatoly Lozhkin, RAS/Wikimedia Commons
Heat turns Siberian forests into a tinderbox ©Anatoly Lozhkin, RAS/Wikimedia Commons

According to the WMO, last summer’s temperatures in Arctic Siberia ranged as much as 10 degrees C higher than normal for much of the summer. The consequences were fires and sea ice loss on a “massive” scale.


“This new Arctic record is one of a series of observations reported to the WMO Archive of Weather and Climate Extremes that sound the alarm bells about our changing climate. In 2020, there was also a new temperature record (18.3°C) for the Antarctic continent,” said WMO Secretary-General Prof. Petteri Taalas.


Expect more records to fall.


“WMO investigators are currently seeking to verify temperature readings of 54.4°C recorded in both 2020 and 2021 in the world’s hottest place, Death Valley in California, and to validate a new reported European temperature record of 48.8°C in the Italian island of Sicily this summer. The WMO Archive of Weather and Climate Extremes has never had so many ongoing simultaneous investigations,” said Prof. Taalas.


The WMO lists the Arctic as one of the “fastest warming regions in the world,” heating at “more than twice the global average.” The warming trend has led a WMO panel of experts to create a new climate category for record-keeping, “highest recorded temperature at or north of 66.5⁰, the Arctic Circle.”


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