Land Temperature Soared To 48°C In The Arctic Circle This Month


Tom Hale

Tom is a writer in London with a Master's degree in Journalism whose editorial work covers anything from health and the environment to technology and archaeology.

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The town of Verkhoyansk in Sakha Republic, Russia, in considerably cooler times. Image credit: Stereo Lights/

If you head to the Arctic this summer, don’t forget your sunscreen and shorts. Land surface temperatures of up to 48°C (118°F) were detected this month in Verkhoyansk, a Siberian town in the Arctic Circle, according to the European Union's Copernicus program, and there's another two months of summer to go.

The temperature was picked up remotely by the Copernicus Sentinel-3A and Sentinel-3B satellites on June 20, 2021, The Copernicus program notes that Siberia, especially in the Republic of Sakha, is experiencing a persistent heatwave with land surface temperatures widely exceeding 35°C (95°F) across the region, including positive balmy temperatures of 43°C (109.4 °F) in Govorovo and 37°C (98.6 °F) in Saskylah.

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

It’s worth highlighting that land surface temperature is not air temperature at ground level, and land surface temperatures can also often be significantly higher than air temperature, which is the standard way of measuring temperatures. Imagine you are on a beach on a summer's day: the sand beneath your feet is going to feel noticeably hotter than the air around your head. 

Nevertheless, this shouldn’t undermine the consistently warmer weather that’s currently occurring in the northern stretches of the planet. 

The Arctic is warming faster than anywhere else on Earth as a result of the deepening climate crisis. Some environmental scientists argue the rapid changes in the Arctic are even forcing the region into an entirely different climate state. Along with this change, heat waves and record-breaking temperatures like the ones seen last weekend are becoming increasingly common in parts of the Arctic Circle, especially in Siberia. In June 2020, the town of Verkhoyansk smashed temperature records after reaching an air temperature of 38°C (100.4°F). 

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