21 June 2020   Leave a comment

The Russian town of Verkhoyansk in Siberia and north of the Arctic Circle registered a temperature of 100.4 degrees F, the highest temperature ever recorded in the Arctic Circle. According to Vox:

“The town of Verkhoyansk is one of the coldest towns on Earth — temperatures dropped to nearly 60 degrees below zero there this past November — and the average June high temperature is 68 degrees.

“The 100.4 reading in Verkhoyansk, which sits farther north than Fairbanks, Alaska, would be the northernmost 100-degree reading ever observed.”

The temperature anomaly represents a trend in the Arctic which is linked to climate change. The article quotes a climate scientist on the significance of the temperature:

“Climate scientist Martin Stendel said on Twitter that the temperatures recorded in northwestern Siberia last month would be a 1-in-100,000-year event — if not for climate change.

“Berardelli [CBS News meteorologist and climate specialist Jeff Berardelli] said the average heat across Russia between January and May actually matches what current models project to be normal for the region in 2100, if carbon emissions continue.

“’Due to heat trapping greenhouse gases that result from the burning of fossil fuels and feedback loops, the Arctic is warming at more than two times the average rate of the globe,’ he explained in his analysis of the Verkhoyansk reading. ‘This phenomenon is known as Arctic Amplification, which is leading to the decline of sea ice, and in some cases snow cover, due to rapidly warming temperatures.’”

The warming will undoubtedly accelerate the thawing of permafrost which will emit significant amounts of methane, a potent greenhouse gas although one not as long-lived as carbon dioxide. Aviva Jogani writes in The Statesman:

“Permafrost comprises 25 per cent of the land in the Northern Hemisphere. It consists of rock, soil, sediments and ice that binds all the components together. While permafrost is defined as ground that has remained frozen for two or more consecutive years, in most areas permafrost has been frozen for thousands of years.

“Susan Natalie, an associate scientist at WHRC, found that permafrost holds an estimated 1,500 billion tonnes of carbon. This is almost double the carbon that is currently in the atmosphere. Apart from carbon, permafrost also stores large amounts of methane. When permafrost thaws upon heating up of the region, it releases vast amounts of this carbon and methane back into the atmosphere.

“In other words, rising temperatures result in permafrost – that is primarily a storage room for carbon and methane – becoming the cause of these gases being emitted back into the atmosphere. Thawing of permafrost is a reality. If it persists, it could result in pervasive global warming. Some scientists find it difficult to determine the relative proportion of carbon emission that might result from permafrost thawing because such a phenomenon has never occurred in human history.

“Studies conducted by Nature Climate Change estimate that carbon loss from permafrost regions could increase by 41 per cent if greenhouse gas emissions by humans continue at their current pace. Another study conducted by WHRC in 2017 estimates that if global temperatures rise by 1.5°C, thawing of permafrost could release 68 to 508 gigatons of carbon. Needless to say, these figures indicate catastrophic impacts on climate change from melting of permafrost.”

Posted June 21, 2020 by vferraro1971 in World Politics

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