Lapland isn't all about Santa and snow-covered sleighs. In fact, this summer it's enduring droughts, once-in-a-century heatwaves, and generally dangerously hot weather.
On July 5, Lapland experienced a temperature of 33.5°C (92.3°F) at a weather station in Kevo, Utsjoki, according to the Finnish Meteorological Institute (FMI). That’s the hottest temperature recorded in Lapland since July 1914 when the Thule weather station in western Inari recorded an unofficial record high temperature of 34.7°C (94.46°F).
Lapland is the largest and northernmost region of Finland, part of which extends into the Arctic Circle. It became the spiritual home of Santa Claus and Christmas in the European tradition after Markus Rautio, a famed Finnish radio broadcaster, declared on-air in 1927 that Santa's workshop had been discovered in Lapland.
However, Lapland doesn't look like a whimsical Christmas card all year round. Each summer, large parts of Lapland take on a more temperate feel, complete with the midnight sun that lights up the sky 24 hours a day. Like many other parts of the world this summer, Finland's weather has been truly out of the ordinary.
“Like June, July has started to be really warm. Practically nowhere has it rained yet. It would seem that a new period of drought and heat is about to begin,” Jari Tuovinen, a meteorologist at FMI, told Finnish newspaper Helsingin Sanomat this week. “It should be said that another wave of drought is now coming to Finland. This week looks pretty bad for that right now. ”
All of the Nordic countries are currently experiencing sweltering heat, with temperature, water shortage, and parched animal warnings being issued in Sweden, Norway, and Finland. According to Scott Duncan, a Scottish meteorologist, temperatures around Scandavaia are widely 10°C to 15°C (18°F to 27°F) hotter than average.
“June 2021 was the hottest June ever recorded in my hometown Stockholm by a large margin,” Swedish climate campaigner Greta Thunberg tweeted.
“The second hottest June was in 2020. The third in 2019,” she added. “Am I sensing a pattern here? Nah, probably just another coincidence.”
For decades, scientists have warned that climate change will make heat waves longer, larger, more frequent, and more intense. This reality is now here. Hundreds of peer-reviewed studies have been able to directly attribute heatwaves and other extreme weather events to human-driven climate change. As the climate crisis continues to go unresolved, these extreme events are only set to become even more frequent and intense.