Arctic heat roasts Finland and Russia, melts sea ice
An intense and expansive heat wave has gripped parts of Siberia, northwestern Russia and Scandinavia, inducing a record plunge in sea ice cover in the Laptev Sea, which is part of the Arctic Ocean.
Why it matters: Due largely to human activities such as fossil fuel burning and deforestation, the Arctic is warming at a rate more than twice as fast as the rest of the globe.
- Sweeping changes there are reverberating beyond in the form of melting permafrost, increased wildfires and altered weather patterns.
- In addition, sea ice melt is turning the Arctic into an increasingly competitive space for shipping, oil and gas drilling, and military posturing between the U.S., Russia and China.
The details: In parts of north-central Siberia, temperatures have reached 45°F above average for this time of year, while other parts of Arctic Russia and Scandinavia have baked in record heat as well.
- Some of these same areas saw record heat and wildfires grip the landscape and melt adjacent sea ice last year.
- In Helsinki, the temperature did not drop below 72.5°F on the night of June 21-22, setting the national record for the highest minimum temperature recorded in June.
- Several locations in Finland set monthly June high-temperature records, and the national June record almost fell Tuesday.
- Record heat also affected Belarus and Latvia.
What's next: Scientists are keeping close tabs on climate trends in Siberia due to the massive amounts of carbon and methane stored in now-melting areas of permafrost.
- Also, researchers are monitoring the 2021 Arctic sea ice melt, which will hit its annual minimum extent in September or early October.