Heat wave in Russia brings record-breaking temperatures north of Arctic Circle

The country is warming more than twice as fast as the rest of the world.

June 23, 2021, 4:34 PM

You may think of Russia -- especially the northern areas from St. Petersburg to Moscow and into Siberia -- as one of the coldest places on Earth, but that was certainly not the case the past few days.

Daily temperatures in St. Petersburg rose to a record-breaking 34 degrees Celsius (93 degrees Fahrenheit) on Tuesday as the city faced the hottest temperatures it's seen since 1998.

Temperatures in Moscow broke their all-time June record Wednesday when they reached 34.8 degrees Celsius (94.6 degrees Fahrenheit). The previous record was 34.7 degrees Celsius (94.46 degrees Fahrenheit), recorded in 1901, the Associated Press reported.

A man eats ice cream in Red Square with St. Basil's Cathedral in the background, in Moscow, June 23, 2021, in a photo released by Russian government owned media.
Sergei Fadeichev/TASS/Newscom

And in Siberia on Sunday, the land surface temperature, which measures how hot the surface feels when you touch it, exceeded 35 degrees Celsius (95 degrees Fahrenheit), with peaks of 48 degrees Celsius (118 degrees Fahrenheit) near Verkhoyansk, and 37 degrees Celsius (nearly 99 degrees Fahrenheit) in Saskylah, both of which are north of the Arctic Circle.

In Saskylah, an air temperature, which is what people actually feel when they walk outside, of 31.9 degrees Celsius (almost 90 degrees Fahrenheit) was recorded, the highest value since 1936.

This image, acquired by the Copernicus Sentinel-3A and Sentinel-3B satellites on June 20, 2021, shows the Land Surface Temperature in the Sakha Republic in Arctic Siberia.
European Union, Copernicus Sentinel-3A/B imagery

Russia is warming 2.5 times faster than the rest of the world.

"The long-term trend is clear in the month of June: Temperatures are rising across Siberia due to the influence of human-caused climate change," Dr. Zachary Michael Labe, a postdoctoral researcher climate scientist at Colorado State University, said. "This will continue to dramatically have far-reaching impacts to marine and terrestrial ecosystems of the Arctic."

"The persistence of the warmth is what is particularly striking to me -- both for this summer and in nearly all of 2020," Labe added. "This is also related to the record-low sea ice ongoing along the coastline of Siberia."

Temperature anomalies in the Arctic part of Siberia over the last two months show that some areas have gotten warmer by 8 degrees Celsius (16 degrees Fahrenheit).

“Unfortunately, last year also observed record-breaking heat across Siberia of a similar or greater magnitude,” Labe said.

Celia Darrough and Daniel Manzo contributed to this report.

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