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Computer model simulation showing smoke from Siberian wildfires drifting across the Pole, into North America.

A scorching heat wave has swept across Scandinavia, breaking all-time heat records into the Arctic Circle. Meanwhile, Sweden is facing a major wildfire outbreak, and the forests of Siberia are ablaze after weeks of extreme heat.

Why it matters: The heat wave and wildfires are causing evacuations and threatening communities in Sweden, where the area burned already exceeds that of the average fire season by thousands of acres, per the Copernicus Emergency Management Service. Plus, the wildfire smoke is hitching a ride on mid-to-upper atmospheric winds to as far away as the U.S.

Temperatures climbed into the 90s Fahrenheit above the Arctic Circle on Tuesday and Wednesday, and remained unusually high again on Thursday. The overnight low temperature in Makkaur, Finland on Thursday morning was a balmy 25.2°C, or 77.3°F. According to meteorologist Etienne Kapikian, this may be a new record for the Arctic.

The wildfires burning across Sweden during this stretch of hot, dry weather is unprecedented in modern times, according to The Weather Channel. In Sweden, many have been evacuated due to the fires. Thousands more acres have gone up in smoke so far this summer compared to an average year, with satellite maps showing dozens of hotspots indicating active blazes.

All-time high temperature records have fallen in Finland, Norway, and Sweden this week.

  • Evenes, Norway, hit 32.2°C, or 90°F, on Wednesday.
  • Katterjokk, Sweden, hit 29.3°C, or 84.7°F, according to records compiled by Weather Underground.
  • Rovaniemi, Finland, set its all-time highest temperature on record both Tuesday and Wednesday, at 32.2°C, or 90.0°F.

The big picture: The heat wave gripping Scandinavia is the latest in a series of heat domes that have dominated weather across the Northern Hemisphere this spring and summer, shattering temperature milestones. It's already resulted in the hottest overnight minimum temperature ever recorded on Earth.

  • In northern Siberia, temperatures have also soared into the 90s, resulting in a more active wildfire season than normal. According to NASA, the smoke plumes from these fires has traveled thousands of miles, resulting in red-tinged sunsets in Canada and the U.S. On July 3, 2018, NASA scientists tracked smoke from a cluster of fires in Sakha Province as it travelled more than 5,000 miles in just 11 days.
  • According to Hiren Jethva, an atmospheric scientist at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center, Russia's summer fires have been more intense this year than in the past. Satellite data shows that Central Russia saw 7,200 fires during the first half of July, about four times as many fires as detected during the same period between 2013 and 2017.

Be smart: The extreme heat and wildfire outbreaks are consistent with what scientists expect from a combination of natural variability and human-caused global warming. The Arctic has been warming at more than twice the rate of the rest of the world.

Go deeper

Cuomo asks New York AG and chief judge to choose "independent" investigator into sexual harassment claims

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo at a press conference on Feb. 24. Photo: Seth Wenig/pool/AFP via Getty Images

A special counselor to New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo released a statement on Sunday asking the state's attorney general and chief judge to jointly pick an "independent and qualified lawyer in private practice without political affiliation" to investigate claims of sexual harassment against the governor.

The state of play: The statement is an about-face from Cuomo, who had previously selected a former judge close to a top aide to lead the investigation, the New York Times reported, a move that was widely criticized.

Republican Sen. Sasse slams Nebraska GOP for "weird worship" of Trump after state party rebuke

Sen. Ben Sasse, (R-Neb.) Photo: Andrew Harnik - Pool/Getty Images

The Nebraska Republican Party on Saturday formally "rebuked" Sen. Ben Sasse (R-Neb.) for his vote to impeach former President Trump earlier this year, though it stopped short of a formal censure, CNN reports.

Why it matters: Sasse is the latest among a slate of Republicans who have faced some sort of punishment from their state party apparatus after voting to impeach the former president. The senator responded statement Saturday, per the Omaha World-Herald, saying "most Nebraskans don't think politics should be about the weird worship of one dude."

Cuomo barraged by fellow Dems after second harassment accusation

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo faced a barrage of criticism from fellow Democrats after The New York Times reported that the second former aide in four days had accused him of sexual harassment.

Why it matters: Cuomo had faced a revolt from legislators for his handling of nursing-home deaths from COVID. Now, the scandal is acutely personal, with obviously grave political risk.