Northwest Russia saw temperatures jump to 29°C (84°F) in Arkhangelsk, which is just below the Arctic Circle, over the weekend just as atmospheric carbon dioxide levels topped 415 parts per million (ppm) for the first time in human history.
"Not just in recorded history, not just since the invention of agriculture 10,000 years ago. Since before modern humans existed millions of years ago,” tweeted meteorologist Eric Holthaus at the time.
"We don't know a planet like this."
According to the Washington Post, the temperature in this part of Russia is generally around 12°C (54°F) this time of year. The publication notes that warm conditions in the area come from a high-pressure system over western Russia, in particular, a “manifestation of the arrangement of weather systems and fluctuations in the jet stream.”
Many of the northern nations are seeing dramatic spikes in temperature. Alaska’s spring has been more like summer this year, with temperatures across the northwest coast spiking at -5ºC (23ºF), 12ºC or 21.9ºF above normal. Three years ago, Greenland’s ice sheet was observed as melting “ridiculously early” with as much as 12 percent of its surface area showing signs of early melting – a trend that remains true today and is only getting worse.
It’s no secret that the Arctic is warming faster than any other place on the planet, and the effects will be felt far beyond its latitudes. As the Arctic slowly disappears as its land ice, sea ice, and permafrost melt, interconnected impacts are observed across the world as infrastructure, economies, and the culture of the people living in the region are impacted. Sea level rise, extreme weather, damage to infrastructure, and erosion to coastal communities have all been observed to varying degrees.
Across the board, a major contributor to warming temperatures is rising greenhouse gas emissions. Since the Industrial Revolution, atmospheric CO2 has steadily climbed 140 parts per million (ppm), and 5 ppm in the last two years alone – altogether making CO2 levels higher than they have been for 800,000 years or more. Sticking to the goals of the Paris Agreement and swiftly curbing these emissions is key to preserving the future of our planet.