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Siberian heat wave “made 600 times more likely by climate change”

Temperatures in Siberia have been above average since the beginning of the year, with the Russian city of Verkhoyansk recording a temperature of 38 degrees C (100.4 degrees Fahrenheit) in June – a record temperature for the Arctic.

The heat in the large Russian region triggered widespread forest fires in June, associated with an estimated 56 million tonnes of carbon dioxide – more than the annual emissions from some industrialized countries such as Switzerland and Norway.

The heat in Siberia has also accelerated the melting of permafrost. An oil tank built on the frozen ground collapsed in May, leading to one of the worst oil spills ever in the region.
In a quick attribution study released on Wednesday, a team of international researchers found that the prolonged heat that the Arctic region experienced this year would only happen less than once in 80,000 years without human-induced climate change.

This, say researchers, would make such an event “almost impossible”

; in a climate that had not been heated by greenhouse gas emissions.

An oil tank built on the frozen ground collapsed in May, leading to a major spill in the region.

Researchers found that climate change increased the chance of prolonged heat by a factor of at least 600 and warned that greenhouse gases released by the fires and melting permafrost will further heat the planet and reduce the planet’s reflectivity from loss of snow and ice.

The Siberian heat wave has also contributed to dropping sea ice levels, especially in the Arctic Ocean, according to the US National Snow and Ice Data Center. The heat has also been linked to an outbreak of silkworm, whose larvae eat conifers in the region, according to the Met Office.

Siberia experienced its warmest June on record – up to 10 degrees Celsius (18 degrees Fahrenheit) higher than average – according to the Copernicus Climate Change Service, a program affiliated with the European Commission.

The region tends to experience large fluctuations in temperature month to month and year to year. But the temperature in the region has remained well above average since 2019, which is unusual.

Global temperatures could exceed the crucial 1.5 C target over the next five years

“The results of this rapid research – that climate change increased the chances of prolonged heat in Siberia by at least 600 times – are truly astonishing,” Andrew Ciavarella, lead author of the researcher and senior discovery and attribution researcher at the Met Office, said in a statement.

“This research is further evidence of the extreme temperatures we can expect to see more frequently around the world in a warming global climate. It is important that an increasing frequency of these extreme heat events can be moderated by reducing greenhouse gas emissions,” he added. he.

The researchers said that even in the current climate, prolonged heat was still unlikely, with such extreme conditions expected to occur less than every 130 years.

But without rapid cuts in greenhouse gas emissions, they risk becoming frequent by the end of the century, experts warned.

CNN’s Zamira Rahim and Hilary McGann contributed with the reporting.

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