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Russia's Arctic Sees Hottest June On Record, A 'Warning Cry' On Climate Change

Firefighters work on a site of a forest fire in Yakutia in Russia Far East.
Firefighters work on a site of a forest fire in Yakutia in Russia Far East.

A heat wave pushed temperatures in Siberia to record levels in June in what scientists say is a "warning cry" on global climate change.

The Copernicus Climate Change Service (C3S) said in a statement on July 7 that last month was the hottest June on record for Russia's Arctic Siberian region, where temperatures averaged more than 5 degrees Celsius above normal, and more than a degree higher compared to 2018 and 2019, the two previous warmest Junes."

"The Arctic is warming faster than the rest of the world," program director Carlo Buontempo said, describing the trend as "worrisome."

Scientists have known climate change is causing the Arctic to warm twice as quickly as the rest of the world, and the Siberian heat wave, which began in May, is typical of that trend.

The extreme heat has sparked an unusually high number of wildfires across the remote, boreal forest and tundra that blankets northern Russia, pushing snow cover and surface soil moisture in the Siberian Arctic to record lows for June, C3S, which his funded by the European Union, said.

Siberia, larger than the United States and Mexico combined, was already reeling from record wildfires last summer.

In mid-August, a record 5.5 million hectares was ablaze in Russia, mostly in Siberia, with smoke clouds covering more than 5 million square kilometers, more than the size of the entire EU.

Greenpeace said in late April that forest fires were already burning on more than 1.3 million hectares in Russia, which the organization said is unusually large for the spring season.

The Russian forestry agency said that as of July 6, there were 246 forest fires covering 140,073 hectares, with seven regions already declaring emergency situations.

"Last year was already by far an unusual, and record, summer for fires in the Arctic Circle," researcher Mark Parrington said in the statement.

"This year has evolved in a very similar way," he added.

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