Did the Arctic region break a heat record?
According to English-language outlet The Siberian Times, temperatures of 32 degrees Celsius, or 89.6 degrees Fahrenheit, were recorded in the Siberian city of Norilsk on July 21. The average temperature in July in the region is 13.6 C, or 56.48 F.
Weather historian Christopher C. Burt explains on the website Weather Underground that the entire Russian Arctic region has seen warm weather as of late. Burt adds that Norilsk has seen its warmest nights in recent days -- some 20.2 C, or 68.26 F -- and that wildfires have erupted in the region.
However Burt and The Siberian Times disagree as to whether the warm weather spell is a record. According to the Siberian Times, the recent spike broke the 31.9 C (89.42 F) record set three decades ago, while Burt believes the current record stands at 32.2 C (89.96 F).
The blog Weather In Siberia notes that the month of July has shown extremely fluctuating temperatures. While the website describes the record temperatures of recent days, it also says that July 1 this year was the coldest measured in many years.
Norilsk, where the extreme temperatures were measured, is the northernmost city in the world. The Siberian town houses 175,000 residents and is built on the permafrost.
The Weather Channel reports that temperatures of -60 F (-51 C) are no exception in winter in Siberia, making it one of the coldest inhabited places on earth.
From the Weather Channel:
On Feb. 6, 1933, an observer, there, measured a temperature of -89.8 degrees Fahrenheit! This is a full 10 degrees colder than the U.S. cold record of -79.8 degrees F at Prospect Creek, Alaska on Jan. 23, 1971. (Incidentally, the record coldest temperature measured on Earth was at the Russian South Pole research station of Vostok, Antarctica (-128.6 deg. F) on July 21, 1983.)
The heat is bad news for firefighters in the region. NASA explains that once the snow melts, the remote region is very susceptible to wildfires. According to Russia Beyond The Headlines, 900 specialists are currently fighting several fires that are already raging in the area. Dozens of Russians were killed by fires during a heatwave in the summer of 2010, when fire gripped over millions of hectares.