Temperatures were recorded in Siberia, Russia last week. In the town of Khatanga, above the Arctic Circle, it was more than 25 degrees last Friday, while the average temperature during this period is around freezing.
According to figures from the independent think tank Berkeley Earth – which analyzes the temperature on our Earth – 2020 is on track to become the hottest year worldwide since measurements started in 1850.
The exceptionally warm temperatures in Siberia were recorded at several weather stations in northern Siberia last week. In Khatanga, the previous record temperature on May 22 was 12 degrees, which became 25.4 degrees Celsius this year. A day later, that was even 25.6 degrees.
The consequences are not lacking. The snow disappears faster than usual, sea ice melts a month earlier, and massive wildfires are raging. This includes ‘zombie fires’ who do not want to go out.
They settle in the rich organic matter beneath the surface – like stretched peat bogs – in the summer, and can continue to smolder under snow and ice in the winter until the weather improves again. Then they grab around again.
Earlier this year, temperatures were above average in Siberia and, by extension, throughout Asia and much of Europe. In Siberia, the average temperature was as much as 3 degrees higher than the average, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
Across Russia, according to Berkeley Earth, it was even 6 degrees in the period from January to April. “That is not only a record for Russia, but it is also the biggest deviation ever seen in the national average of any country,” the respected think tank said. In Moscow, there is even talk of “a year without winter”.
The cause can be found with various factors. Like the compelling polar vortex, a vast area of frigid air above the poles at a few tens of kilometers. This ensures that little cold air can seep to the south. Also, a large high-pressure area was created that stretched very north and was more intense than any other high-pressure region in the world.
By the way, the whole world is in the same bath. According to Berkeley Earth, April was the warmest April month worldwide since the beginning of the observations.
It does even better than the previous record year in 2016 when an exceptionally large El Niño was sighted. That is the strong warming of usually cool seawater along the Eastern Pacific equator, which affects weather in much of the world. March was the fourth warmest, January and February were the second warmest. And this year there is no El Niño.
Forecasts for the rest of the year further predict a 60 percent chance that 2020 will be the hottest year ever, despite expectations that the extreme heat in the first four months should decrease somewhat in the rest of the year.
According to Berkeley Earth, the odds are 28 percent that 2020 will come second (after 2016) and 11 percent that 2020 will fall third. When combined, this is a 99 percent chance that 2020 will end in the top three of the hottest years ever.