Wildfires, record warmth and rapidly melting ice: Arctic climate goes further off the rails this summer
Records shattered in Siberia, Svalbard, Nunavut and other areas as study points to historic shifts.
The Arctic summer of 2020 is one that has been marked by raging fires in the Far North, with smoke extending more than 1,000 miles downwind, along with alarming new temperature records and ice melt. While rapid Arctic climate change is not exactly news — the region is warming at about three times the rate of the rest of the world — the manifestations of this phenomenon are increasing in severity, scope and societal consequences.
This week, for example, with blazes raging across Siberia, smoke smothered the skies all the way into portions of Alaska. In Svalbard, a Norwegian Arctic archipelago that has seen staggering warming rates in recent years, all-time temperature records were set, turning already receding glaciers into mush, covered by so much turquoise meltwater that it was visible from space.
The Svalbard archipelago is one of the fastest-warming places on Earth, with sea ice and glaciers on the decline. In Longyearbyen, Svalbard, the northernmost inhabited settlement, with more than 1,000 residents, temperatures soared to 71.1 degrees (21.7 Celsius) on July 25, setting a record high for this location. Longyearbyen had a string of four days that exceeded 68 degrees (20 Celsius). Such a high temperature had only been seen once before, in July of 1979.
At the same location, the overnight low temperature failed to fall below 62.2 degrees (16.8 Celsius) on the 28th, setting a record for the warmest low temperature. This is 6.3 degrees (3.5 Celsius) warmer than the previous record, which was set just two days prior, on July 26.https://www.washingtonpost.com/weather/2020/07/29/arctic-climate-change-hastens/
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