UN weather agency warns of repercussions amid Arctic heatwave

FILE - In this Friday, July 10, 2020 file grab taken from video provided by Russian Emergency Ministry, shows a Russian Emerg
FILE - In this Friday, July 10, 2020 file grab taken from video provided by Russian Emergency Ministry, shows a Russian Emergency Ministry's Beriev plane BE-200 Be-200 multipurpose amphibious aircraft releasing water in the Trans-Baikal National Park in Buryatia, southern Siberia, Russia. The U.N. weather agency is warning that average temperatures in Siberia came in 10 degrees Celsius (18 Fahrenheit) above average last month, a spate of exceptional heat that has fanned devastating fires in the Arctic Circle. The high heat has also contributed to the rapid depletion of ice sea coverage off the Russian Arctic coast. World Meteorological Organization Secretary-General Petteri Taalas said the Arctic is heating more than twice as fast as the global average. WMO says the extended heat is linked to a large “blocking pressure system” and northward swing of the jet stream. (Russian Emergency Ministry Press Service via AP, File)

The UN weather agency warned that average temperatures in Siberia were 10C (18F) above average last month, 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.

“The Arctic is heating more than twice as fast as the global average, impacting local populations and ecosystems and with global repercussions,” World Meteorological Organisation secretary-general Petteri Taalas said in a statement.

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

WMO previously cited a reading of 38C (100.4F) in the Russian town of Verkhoyansk on June 20, which the agency has been seeking to verify 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 in the Laptev and Barents Seas”.

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