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Climate Crisis: UN recognizes new Arctic temperature record of 38 degrees

The UN on Tuesday officially recognized the 38 degrees Celsius measured in Siberia last year as a new record high for the Arctic, sounding alarm bells over climate change.

The sweltering heat, equivalent to 100.4 degrees Fahrenheit, was seen on June 20, 2020, in the Russian town of Verkhoyansk, marking the highest temperature ever recorded above the Arctic Circle, the World Meteorological Organization said.

This is the first time the WMO has added record heat in the Arctic to its archive of extreme weather reports, and it comes amid an unprecedented wave of record temperature spikes globally, the UN agency said.

This new Arctic record is one of a series of observations reported to the WMO Archive of Weather and Climate Extremes that sound the alarm bells about the changing climate, agency chief Petteri Taalas said in a statement.

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Verkhoyansk lies about 115 kilometers north of the Arctic Circle and temperatures have been measured there since 1885.

The average temperatures across Arctic Siberia reached up to 10 *C above normal for much of the summer last year, it said, adding that this had fuelled fires and massive sea-ice loss. The heatwave also played a significant role in 2020 being designated one of the three warmest years on record globally.

Last year also saw a new record high of 18.3C for the Antarctic continent, Taalas said. The WMO is still seeking to verify the 54.4C recorded in both 2020 and 2021 in the world’s hottest place, Death Valley in California.

The lowest temperature ever measured above the Arctic Circle was -69.6C and recorded on December 22, 1991, on Greenland, WMO said.

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