Arctic Heat Wave

Published by DonDavidson on

The average high temperature on June days in Verkhoyansk, Russia, is a very comfortable 69º Fahrenheit (20.6º Celsius), and the temperature rarely gets above 82º F (27.8º C). That’s because Verkhoyansk is located in Siberia, north of the Arctic Circle. So a recent high temperature of 100.4º F (38º C) in Verkhoyansk is astounding.

It should also be frightening, because rising temperatures in the Arctic will speed up global warming. As I pointed out in chapter 11 of my book, Beyond Blind Faith (which you can read by clicking here):

as the earth warms a lot of carbon that is currently confined in “carbon sinks” will get released into the atmosphere. Billions of tons of CO2 and methane are locked away in the permanently frozen ground (permafrost) of Siberia, Alaska, the Arctic, and many high-elevation areas. This permafrost holds the remains of dead plants which never fully decomposed due to the frigid temperatures. But as temperatures rise, some of this permafrost is thawing. And as it does, those dead plants will finish decomposing, releasing previously suspended COand methane into the atmosphere.

Siberia appears to be warming almost four times as fast as the Earth generally—about 1.24º F (0.69º C) every decade, compared to only about 0.32º F (0.18º C) globally. This is compounding the problem of climate change because of the greenhouse gases being added to the atmosphere as a result.

Melting permafrost can have other ramifications besides releasing more greenhouse gases, because permafrost provides a firm foundation for many structures in the Arctic. As the permafrost melts, that foundation destabilizes. A huge diesel oil spill in late May near the Russian city of Norilsk is thought to have resulted from melting permafrost, which caused the storage tank to collapse.

Part of this blog entry is summarized from the ABC News article, “The Arctic is on fire: Siberian heat wave alarms scientists,” which can be found here:


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